Don’t let his size fool you, because there’s a good chance Tofa Fakunle broke your ankles while pushing the ball around you in his day.
The former three-season captain of the UNBC Timberwolves is the second athlete to receive an induction to the Athletics department’s Wall of Honour, the first soccer star to earn the nod since its unveiling on Feb. 16.
In August 2019, his five years in Prince George paid off in also becoming the first UNBC graduate to debut in the Canadian Premier League (CPL), the country’s highest-level of soccer, with his hometown Cavalry FC (Calgary).
But while his success on the field turned enough heads to reach that moment, Fakunle’s contributions to the program's culture impacted others.
“Tofa showed us all the effort needed to grow,” said current student-athlete Owen Stewart, who played with ‘The Captain’ for two years.
“He was willing to help anyone who needed it, on or off the field. We saw him as the first to take a true shot on UNBC, because he was an elite athlete from a big city who saw the potential of the program. [...] I think UNBC Soccer is where it is now because of people like Tofa. I know he will continue to be an advocate for this program for his entire life.”
In his 2013 freshman year, the five-foot-four striker from Calgary, Alta. led his team in goals and points.
Since then, he’s gone on to hold records among all-time Timberwolves in points (26), assists (14), shots on goal (74) and game-winning goals (four).
He’s also second in school history for goals (12) and fifth in games played (67).
Perhaps Fakunle’s biggest accomplishment was propelling UNBC men’s soccer to its first-ever Canada West playoff appearance since joining U SPORTS in 2012.
With a 5-7-6 record, the now 25-year-old helped the team earn a quarter-final spot before ultimately losing 0-2 in the best-of-three series with University of Alberta.
“There is only one Tofa Fakunle,” said UNBC Head Coach Steve Simonson, who saw Fakunle develop and grow as a leader in his final three years.
“He was such a presence in our program both on and off the field. He was an incredibly talented player for us, and when he was playing at his best, he was an absolute handful for opponents. Tofa took on the challenge of being a captain of developing program that definitely isn’t without its challenges. He grew in his leadership over his time at UNBC and has carried that on to his next chapter within the game.”
In his UNBC collegiate career, Fakunle was awarded Rookie of the Year (2014), Male Athlete of the Year (2017), U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian (2017), Most Valuable Player (2017), and three Golden Boot Awards.
He capped off his collegiate career with a Canada West Men's Soccer Second Team All-Star nod.
Simonson believes Fakunle wanted nothing more than to expand, grow, uplift and revitalize UNBC soccer and that his legacy can continue to ignite passion for future athletes.
“Many a day he would come to the office and ask for advice, hoping to help his team to grow, and wanting to improve himself. I think the lessons he took from his time at UNBC will be lasting, as will the memories that he has left for those who knew him here.”
After suiting up for roughly 1.5 seasons in the CPL, Fakunle has since been hired as Football Operations Manager for Cavalry FC.
He's one of 15 inaugural inductees for the UNBC Wall of Honour.
Basketball legend Inderbir Gill, who led the T-Wolves to its first and only national championship thus far, was the first to be enshrined with more expected in the weeks ahead.