A former R.D. Parker Collegiate soccer team member achieved a milestone in his latest foray into football when he scored his first goal as a member of the Manitoba Major Soccer League’s Division 4 Portage Fusion June 14.
Darion Latchman, who made the Trojans soccer team as a twelfth-grader and then went on to play one season with the Assiniboine Community College Cougars in 2013-154, hadn’t played organized competitive soccer for two years prior to making the Fusion and says his goal - the only one for his team in a 9-1 loss to CCS Sweat Shack - wasn’t anything fancy.
“I still don’t know how I got it in,” Latchman said. “It was two seconds left and I didn’t know and one of my teammates, he missed the ball and I just saw an opening and I just went and I booted it without thinking and I happened to score. That was pretty much it.”
Although it didn’t make a difference to the outcome, it was nice to spoil the shutout bid at the very least.
“I was just like, if I could blast one past him I’m going to do it so that’s what I did,” said Latchman.
Most of Latchman’s soccer experience came as a player and referee in the Thompson Junior Soccer Association, as well as helping out on that organization’s board.
Prior to his only season with the Trojans, the quality of the other players dissuaded him from trying out.
“I decided, ‘Hey you know what, I’ll make a game-time decision and try out,’ something new,did it and made the team,” Latchman said.
Playing for the Fusion has been an adjustment for Latchman because he is competing against larger and more experienced players and also playing a new position.
“It was a transition going from high school to college and now college to playing men’s and men’s is like a lot bigger bodies, a lot more experience, so it’s been an awesome ride so far,” Latchman says. “For high school and college I played defensive midfield but now I’m playing a new role. They have me more on the wing because of my speed. It’s been great. It’s just trying to get comfortable with the new position.”
His new teammates, many of whom played together on other teams or in Winnipeg before, have been welcoming to their northern import.
“Since I’ve been here the team has welcomed me with open arms,” he says, though his Thompson roots were a surprise to them. “They were a little shocked because they thought I was from Winnipeg and then I told them where I was originally from. They were kind of like, ‘Whoa, what? What are you doing here?’”
Latchman has family in Portage and between playing and coaching his cousin’s soccer team and working at Canad Inns, he’s keeping pretty busy.
Like many athletes, he isn’t immune to superstition and credits a friend from Thompson with giving him good luck to get his first goal.
“I was actually Snapchatting my friend from back in Thompson and I was kind of wondering what laces I should wear. My boot is all orange and I Snapchatted my friend and I’m like, ‘Should I keep my laces or should I change them to purple?’ My friend’s like, ‘Purple, duh,’ so I think a shout out to Joelinn would be ideal. Purple laces were a good choice. That gave me the luck.”
Latchman says it’s thanks to coaches including Nuno Pereira in Thompson and also his coaches at ACC, as well as his cousins Klinita and Paul, that he was able to find his way onto a men’s competitive team.
“I’m not going to say I’m the best because I’m far from that,” Latchman says. “There’s a lot of better soccer players in Thompson or who came out of Thompson that are a lot better than I am. I’m just blessed for the opportunity to be playing soccer.”
The Fusion earned their first win of the season 4-3 over Stonewall June 25.