Vancouver Whitecaps homegrown Alphonso Davies first soccer player to become UN Refugee Agency ambassador

Since departing Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2018 for Bayern Munich, Alphonso Davies has accumulated an impressive coffer of personal accolades and team trophies. 

Silverware aside, the 20-year-old Canada national team star can now call himself a UNHCR Global Goodwill Ambassador, becoming the first soccer player to hold that title. The decision was announced Wednesday by the UN’s Refugee Agency.

While Davies grew up in Canada, his family fled Liberia as civil war engulfed the African country. He was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp before they relocated to Edmonton. 

“Alphonso Davies personifies the power of sport and we are truly honored to have him joining us,” Filippo Grandi, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, said in a release. “Sport has the incredible power to bring hope, to heal and to help shape the future for those forced to flee. In our work with refugees we see daily what uplifting difference sports can make in their lives.

“His personal story, his talent and triumph as a professional footballer and his commitment to help refugees is impressive. I am looking forward to working with him.”

The left back signed his first contract with Vancouver as a 15-year-old, eventually tallying eight goals and 12 assists for Vancouver in 65 games across three seasons. That drew the attention of European suitors, resulting in Bayern shelling out a transfer fee that could reportedly reach $22 million.

As Davies has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the German Bundesliga, he hasn’t forgotten the challenges his family faced. In a recent New York Times story by Rory Smith, Davies outlined what it’s like growing up as a refugee. 

“I want people to know about the importance of helping refugees, wherever they are, in camps or cities, in neighboring countries or countries of resettlement such as Canada,” Davies said in the UN’s release. “Refugees need our support to survive, but also access to education and sports, so they can fulfill their potential and truly thrive.”

For more about Davies’ journey, be sure to check out this Vancouver Whitecaps-produced documentary. It debuted in 2017, long before he became an entrenched Bayern Munich star, and, as he explained in the NYT, it was how Davies first heard the first-hand accounts from his parents of his time as a refugee.