Team Player

Defender Wilfred Williams pays it forward

Oakland University soccer defender Wilfred Williams sits on a bench in the men's locker room with a soccer ball next to him with lockers and towels behind him

Photo by Adam Sparkes

Oakland University soccer player Wilfred Williams sits on the floor to stretch while talking to an athletic trainer

Photo by Adam Sparkes

Oakland University soccer player Wilfred Williams lays on a white floor while a trainer helps stretch his legs

Photo by Adam Sparkes

Close up of soccer player Wilfred Williams' hand holding a pink and yellow soccer ball at his side while outside during soccer practice

Photo by Adam Sparkes

Oakland University soccer player Wilfred Williams smiles outside during practice in a gray Oakland University soccer shirt

Photo by Adam Sparkes

Soccer player Wilfred Williams stretches his right leg on the grass of the Oakland University soccer practice field while other teammates practice behind him

Photo by Adam Sparkes


icon of a calendarNovember 15, 2017

icon of a pencilBy Robert Guttersohn

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At an early age, Wilfred Williams learned the importance of giving back to his community. In Monrovia, Liberia — where

Williams was born — your neighbors are an extension of your family, he says.

“Your neighborhood takes care of you and looks out for you,” which enabled Williams the chance to play soccer. “My mom couldn’t afford my childhood soccer and all that. So I had a family friend who would volunteer to take me to games and pay for all the things I needed.”


Williams is entering his senior year as a defender on Oakland University’s soccer team and has his sights set on going pro next year. But between practicing soccer and studying for his final year of college, the 21-year-old student athlete dedicates a sizable portion of his time to giving back.

In 2014, Williams began donating his Christmas gifts to refugee and immigrant families in need in Charlotte, North Carolina, through the nonprofit One7 Ministry. It soon became an annual tradition that has grown in scope since transferring from Eastern Florida State College to OU in the fall of 2016.

Last Christmas, he raised $2,000 so he could return to Charlotte, treat children to lunch and dinner and take them shopping for gifts. Then last spring — after returning to Liberia for the first time in 10 years — he got the opportunity to give thanks to his native community by supporting the players of the Paynesville Young Star Football Club. Williams started a GoFundMe page and raised enough money to cover the school tuition (ranging from $25 to $300) and some new soccer gear for each player.

“My ultimate goals are to see players from Liberia graduate high school, play soccer here, get an education, and then go back and do more great stuff for Liberia,” says Wilfred, who became an American citizen this year.

Williams plans to help raise money for the team’s tuition costs again this year. “It’s not just helping kids,” he says. “It’s taking a burden off of a family.”

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