Whether on the field or off of it, Real Salt Lake defender Abdoulie Mansally can’t help but get involved.
This year, he played more minutes than he had in any other season since joining RSL in 2012 and scored his first goal with the Claret-and-Cobalt. And while he takes great pride in what he can contribute between the white lines, his electric smile widens to new dimensions when he talks about his work in the community.
It is through his work locally in Utah and in his native Gambia with the Mansally Foundation that the 26-year-old has earned the Jordan Guernsey Humanitarian of the Year award for the second consecutive season. He is the first player in RSL’s 11 seasons to win the annual club award more than once.
“This is who I am. On the field and outside the field, I love to be involved in a lot of things, especially helping people. I just love doing this and I love helping out. For me, getting this two years in a row means a lot for me and it’s just going to keep pushing me to do more and more,” Mansally said. “Wherever I go – to the schools, in the community, to the hospitals to see kids – it makes me feel like I’m doing something. As I was growing up, I saw a lot of things and I’m just thankful for what I’m able to do.”
Growing up in Banjul, The Gambia, on the African west coast, always aspired to be a professional soccer player. Playing with rolled up balls and bare feet in the streets and in the fields, he had bigger plans, too, for when he reached that goal.
A seemingly small gesture of providing shoes for children with the same dreams that he fostered when he was on those streets has gone a long way in helping his home community while also brightening his own smile – illuminating Mansally with pride. He walks around those same streets and it’s as if the president is in his midst.
“I think about when I was a kid and think about if someone brought me cleats when I was a kid, how would I react?” he said. “You give them the world and they hold it in their hands. Seeing all of those faces and the smile on them … it means a lot to them”
And it isn’t just the cleats that has the city buzzing about one of its favorite sons.
In addition to the over 300 pairs of cleats that were donated by his teammates and friends in the Salt Lake City community, Mansally has also helped raise funds to provide over 150 bags of rice to help feed the people of Banjul.
On top of that, he has also helped in the medical expenses for a young woman in The Gambia who was stricken with cancer. When Malla Manneh was forced to leave school to receive treatment, Mansally stepped in to help ensure that she could be treated, could recover properly and return to school.
Now when he returns to his home city – whether it is during the off-season or while in The Gambia for international duty with the national team – he beams with pride at the progress that he has helped create.
“I just wanted to give them something they could smile about,” he smiled. “It’s bigger than even I thought.”
To help contribute or read more, visit www.mansallyfoundation.org.