Roma midfielder chasing opportunities
St. Catharines Roma Wolves midfielder Kilsman Toma came to Canada to change his life.
Born in Albania, the 29-year-old grew up in Italy but made the difficult decision to come to Canada three and a half years ago.
“Italy is the best country to live if you have economic stability. You can have a good life but lately it has been hard getting opportunities even for people finishing university or like a course at school,” he said. “Here I feel the lifestyle is completely different but at least there are more opportunities, more jobs and, of course, more money.”
He is now managing his uncle’s bar, Kramer’s Bar and Grill, in Toronto, and has yet to determine whether he has made the right choice from an economic and social perspective.
“It is still early because I don’t have a family and my whole family is in Italy: My dad, my mom and my two brothers. I am here with my uncle and a couple of cousins and I don’t know yet about my future.”
He has no complaints about his new home.
“Canada is a good country, the people are very open and the good thing is I see a lot of people from other countries with different cultures and lifestyles. It makes me feel comfortable and it makes me feel like it is my place.”
Toma grew up in Foligno, Italy, a town of about 60,000 where, like every other town in Italy, soccer is king.
“Soccer is very important. It is everything.”
The town boasted a team that played in Italy’s third division (Serie C), a level Toma feels is comparable to the top teams in the Canadian Premier League.
He played academy soccer with Foligno before joining the Perugia under-21 squad and then its main team in Serie C. He was also loaned out to other teams and played in the fourth league with Bastia. He returned to Foligno before spending time in the Hessenliga in Germany with Bad Vilbel. He returned to Foligno one more time before coming to Canada.
Serendipity landed him with the Wolves.
“It is very weird because the coach (Federico Turriziani) is from my hometown. He contacted me and told me to come and try out with them. I told him I was living in Toronto and it was a little bit far but he said ‘Just come. Just come.’ They convinced me and I am very happy.”
Having Italians on his team is fortunate for Toma,
“It is helping me to learn English and they know what soccer means to me and the tradition in Italy. The culture in Italy is totally different and I am happy to share that with them.”
He is enjoying League1.
“It is a competitive league and I have been following it for the last couple of years. But because of COVID I couldn’t start for awhile.”
Toma began his soccer journey in Canada trying out for the CPL’s York United FC.
“I did a few training sessions with them and then COVID came, they moved the league to Florida and they did the whole year there. I wasn’t able to move anywhere because of my papers. Now this is my first year in Canada and I am very excited.”
He is having fun.
“It is a completely different culture of soccer and I am very happy that Canada made the World Cup. I see parents bringing the kids more to the sport now. When I first got here, I felt it was more hockey, baseball and maybe a little bit of basketball. But now I feel soccer is more competitive and it is bringing in more people and kids. It is more important, for sure.”
The Roma Wolves lost 4-1 to visiting Electric City FC (4-2) Friday night to fall to 1-5 in League1 Ontario Men’s Premier League action.
Victor Kariuki scored for the Wolves while Connor Wilson (2), Filip Rakic and Nigel Buckley replied for Electric City.
St. Catharines hosts Scrosoppi FC next Friday at 8:45 p.m. at Club Roma.