North Vancouver fullback La’Vere Corbin-Ong takes first step with Canada

Corbin-Ong takes first step with Canada

It is a name to remember — La’Vere Lawrence Corbin-Ong.

And with any luck Wednesday, the London-born, North Vancouver-raised left fullback will be able to put Canadian international before it.

His friends back home call him Lav, for short. In Germany, where he plays for FSV Frankfurt in the third division, his teammates call him Dante after the Brazilian who use to patrol the defence for Bayern Munich.

“Because no one can say La’Vere,” Corbin-Ong said. “And he also has curly hair (read Afro) and we kind of look similar.”

The 25-year-old Corbin-Ong received his first national team call-up in advance of Canada’s friendly Wednesday against Scotland in Edinburgh.

The Canadian Soccer Association website has no photo for Corbin-Ong and the only entry on his player timeline is the current Canada camp. His Canadian resume is essentially a blank piece of paper.

Corbin-Ong is just happy to be here. And he is no stranger to extending a stay after arriving unheralded.

Victor Oppong, a former Canadian under-20 and under-23 defender who played in Germany, apparently pointed the CSA in Corbin-Ong’s direction. Oppong, put in touch with Corbin-Ong upon his arrival in Germany via mutual contacts, helped him find an apartment and him get settled.

Corbin-Ong was born in London to a Barbadian father and Malaysian mother, who were in England for school/work. He was one when they moved to Edmonton and four when they settled in North Vancouver.

After high school, he played one season at Capilano University before joining the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program.

He was headed to UBC after that but its season had already started. So with five months to kill before he could join the Thunderbirds, he went to Europe in 2012.

“It just ended up being a bit longer than I thought it would be,” he said with a chuckle. 

“Definitely overall a happy experience,” he added. “And one I’m happy I made it through.”

He got a tryout with FC Pommern Greifswald, an amateur fifth-division team, through a high school coach who had a link to an agent.

“It was an experience, I can say that,” said Corbin-Ong. “It was part of (the former) East Germany and when you don’t know any German and you kid of look a little different, I wouldn’t say it was the easiest place to start.”

He was enrolled in a school for newcomers to the country, studying for three to four hours a day for some two months to learn language basics.

After two years, he moved to Berliner AK 07, a fourth-division side.

“Berlin’s a great city to live in,” he said. “I met a lot of people I still talk to on that team.”

He spent two years in the German capital, becoming more acclimatized to the language and culture. He moved last summer to Frankfurt, which had just been relegated from the second division.

“Frankurt’s a beautiful city,” he said. “The club, I’m enjoying playing at a higher level, and being able to play the game I live.”

Frankfurt (6-12-10) stands 18th in the 20-team league but its defensive record has been good, with 31 goals conceded in 28 games. It has only scored 30 goals, however. “Goals for, we’re working for it,” he said.

At No. 67, Scotland is ranked 50 places above the Canadian men. Canada is 0-5-0 against the Scots, outscored 13-2.

Scotland won 3-1 the last time they met in 2002 at Easter Road Stadium, the same venue as Wednesday’s game.

___

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had an incorrect record for Canada against Scotland.

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