Over the last four years, the Richmond Hill High School girls soccer team have been a dominate force in Region 3-AAA. One reason for that is the foot skills of Lady Cat team captain Azea Mustafa. Mustafa signed a letter of intent to play NCAA Division III soccer at Wesleyan College in Macon, where she will be attending on an academic scholarship.
"This means a lot to me – being able to sign for a college where I get to have a great education and play soccer, which is what I’ve wanted to do since I was three years old," Mustafa said. "They have a great reputation for academics and they offered me a scholarship where they pay for me to do research for either my junior or senior year, so this is a great opportunity."
This is the very first year that Wesleyan is recruiting players, so Mustafa will be in the same boat with other girls that have been drafted from other areas of the country.
"I’ve already met a couple of them and they’re great," Mustafa said.
It’s not surprising that Mustafa is going this route with athletics. After all, the Mustafa name is synonymous with Richmond Hill soccer. With her parents heavily involved in the rec soccer scene, Mustafa grew up on the soccer fields in Richmond Hill.
Mother Cindy was one of her earliest coaches in the Richmond Hill rec league. Her next coach was her father Mohammad. Her siblings all play soccer, and it wasn’t too long ago when her brother Adel was in the same shoes when he signed on to play Division I soccer at Mercer.
"Azea brought a level of understanding of the game and what it took to be a top notch soccer player, having grown up playing the game and being in a soccer family," RHHS coach Steve Kollman said.
"I’ve envisioned this moment many times in my head," her father said. "It gives me great pleasure to see her grow and making the right decisions about going to the appropriate college."
Wesleyan coach Phillip Bohn scouted her from her state appearance as a member of the U-19 Shockers Select Club team, which she was a captain of, before pursuing her.
"I’m really excited to have Azea as part of our recruiting class," Bohn said. "She has a high soccer IQ and great potential. I expect her to have an immediate impact on our team."
Her father describes her on-field presence as someone with "incredible ball control and is unselfish on the field. She plays the game to have fun – not to grab the spotlight."
RHHS coach Steve Kollman said her record this year of five goals and 15 assists goes to show this trait.
"When you have your two center mid-fielders and one with 16 goals and 14 assists (Lauren Hall) and one (Mustafa) with five goals and 15 assists, I think that can attest to Azea being unselfish. And it wasn’t just about the two of them; it was about getting everybody else involved."
Mustafa said when the Cats ended up losing at Columbus this year during the second round of state, she was excited instead of sad because she knew it was not over for her.
"It’s been a pleasure watching Azea Mustafa grow up playing soccer," Kollman said. "I’ve worked with her parents in the rec association and I’ve actually watched her play since the fifth grade. What a pleasure to have on your team. Not only a gifted foot skills soccer player who has great vision and understanding of the game, but just a wonderful, mature young lady who understands what her responsibility is and how to lead others by example. A wonderful academic student. She’s the kind of girl we want representing our program."
Her plans are for four more years of soccer while earning her bachelor’s degree before going to UGA to attain a master’s. All of this to eventually reach her ultimate goal of becoming a high school calculus teacher.