A 16-year-old Nigerian soccer player went missing in Rock Hill, South Carolina after he and his soccer team came to town to take part in a Wednesday night match.
Sam Okpodu, Executive Director for the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association, told police that the boy, whose name has not been released, walked away from the Wingate Inn, 760 Galleria Blvd., around 4 a.m. Sunday, according to a Rock Hill police report.
Rock Hill was the last stop on the Nigerian Academicals team’s tour of the state, Okpodu said.
The teams played against other teams in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville.
Surveillance camera video from the Wingate Inn shows the boy walking to a nearby Cracker Barrel and then disappearing.
He was wearing black flip-flop sandals with white socks, brown pants and a black shirt.
He weighs 120 pounds.
The boy’s coach told police he believes an unknown Facebook friend might be helping him, the report states.
The teen has been entered into the National Crime Information Centre as a runaway.
“We want to believe that he will return before the team leaves,” Okpoku said. “We’re putting our hopes on that right now. He’s a young fellow; I don’t think he knows anybody here.”
Rock Hill police have not initiated an “active search,” Lt. Brad Redfearn said, because days passed between the time the boy ran away and when police were notified at about 8:45 pm on Tuesday.
Police have issued a BOLO (be on the lookout) alert for the teen, Redfearn said.
Soccer officials waited until Tuesday to report the teen missing because they didn’t want to raise “a false alarm,” Okpodu said.
They also wanted to see if he would return on his own.
The boy’s parents were contacted, Okpodu said, and there weren’t any plans to cancel Wednesday night’s match against Rock Hill’s Discoveries Soccer Club’s 96 green team.
The Nigerian team was scheduled to fly back to Nigeria on Thursday, Okpodu said.