In recent months, Enock Citenga has been a familiar sight in Boothbay Region YMCA. The 21-year-old South African spends his mornings there training for what he hopes will become a successful professional soccer career. Citenga was born in England and at 4 moved with his family to Johannesburg, South Africa.
There, he attended a soccer academy and trained for a career as a professional “footballer.” Citenga believes he would have likely already signed a professional soccer contract if his family hadn’t moved to the U.S. In 2019, he enrolled at Central Maine Community College where he played collegiately for two seasons. At the Auburn school, he majored in business administration and minored in mechanical engineering. But playing soccer is Citenga’s passion and what he wants to pursue as a career. Last December, he tried out with Tulsa FC of the United Soccer League. In American professional soccer, the USL is a second division professional league. Major League Soccer is the top professional league.
“My tryout went well,” Citenga said. “But they told me to finish my education since I only had one year remaining, and come back after graduation.” This fall, Citenga will move to Kansas to play collegiate soccer for Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Southwestern College competes in the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level.
But how does a kid born in England, who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, end up in Boothbay, Maine? Simply put, it was a girl who brought him to the Midcoast: Jackie Steinmetz. “I met her in Lewiston, and told her my career plans. She was very supportive, and told me I could train in Boothbay before I left for Kansas,” he said.
This winter, Citenga played in two men’s indoor soccer leagues. One team is the Warren Wonders who played their indoor season at “The Pitch.” The second is in Topsham. He also plays in a Portland summer league with games at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Citenga described Maine’s adult soccer leagues as competitive. “They are filled with players who are in excellent shape between 19 and 35 years old. It’s fast-paced play, and excellent training,” he said.
At Boothbay Harbor YMCA, Citenga does individual training. He performs dribbling and passing drills to sharpen his skills. He also uses technology to provide a “game-like” experience during workouts. “I use an iPad. It changes colors and simulates a game situation so I know when to dribble or pass,” he said.
Citenga is the son of Dr. S.C. Ntandua, a South African brain surgeon. Ntanbua was born in the Republic of Congo. He married Christine Citenga who is French and grew up in a Paris suburb. The couple met in England and married. Citenga’s family includes a sister and two brothers. Citenga’s father hoped his son would pursue a medical career. “I told him my talent lies in my feet, not my brain,” he said. “I’m sure in time he will understand my decision.”
So sooner or later, Citenga’s Boothbay region friends may see him playing professional soccer in the Sooner State.