GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan’s own John Waller has signed a one-year contract with the National Premiere Soccer League.
Waller, a graduate of Western Michigan Christian High School and Michigan State University, continued his soccer journey post grad with the Detroit City FC, Napa Valley 1839 and New Amsterdam FC. He’ll now be playing with New Jersey’s Atlantic City FC.
Waller will join the team as a defender. But before signing his contract, Waller traveled to Africa to donate time, money and school supplies to his home country of Liberia as COVID-19 canceled the league season in 2020.
News 8 brought you his story in January when Waller’s main goal was to build a well for his poverty stricken hometown.
After a global fundraising effort, Waller was able to build the well and donate even more supplies to his birth country.
“Because of your help, I was able to raise almost $1,000 to be able to help the kids in Liberia who struggled like me,” Waller said. “If it wasn’t for those donations, these kids wouldn’t be able to eat, to drink, and I’m being completely honest with you.”
Waller was adopted by a family in Whitehall when he was a preteen. He says his adoptive parents helped give him an opportunity to change the world.
“I begged them, I literally begged them, ‘can you please put me in your suitcase and take me with you?’” Waller said. “They helped me and because of their generosity, my parents blessed my life, it motivated me to change the world and Liberia for the better.”
With the world cup qualifiers fast approaching, Waller says he has been in contact with the Liberian national team, the Lone Stars, in hopes of representing the country. “It would be a dream come true if I am given the opportunity,” Waller said.
“It means everything to me to be a role model for these children and the people of Liberia,” Waller said. “Absolutely means the world to me to be a good role model for my people. That’s why I donated the food to so many orphanages and helped build the well. They depend on donations. Without them, third world counties like that cannot survive.”
Waller continues to support the nonprofit organization he helped establish in the United States as well, Summerplace FC , which helps refugee children in Lansing and in Africa.
“I’m always grateful for that, that God put me in a position where I can keep growing and also be able to help people,” Waller said. “That’s my mission: to give these people hope and opportunity.”