Shared passion for soccer

Pair bonds over sport they love and forge a friendship that goes beyond the pitch

By John Minor Published:

Soccer was the link that brought Wally Disponette and Emmanuel Nfor together. But from there it has grown into a lasting friendship.  
“Outside of my passion for the game, this guy has probably the next best passion,” Disponette said with a smile. “We’re close on this passion thing and how much we like the game of soccer.”
Their friendship started at the end of 2012 when Disponette was looking for an assistant coach. Disponette, the head coach of Bondurant Middle School’s girls soccer team, was conducting practice. Nfor and his younger brother came to the field to kick around the ball.
Disponette said he remembered seeing Nfor play around eight years earlier for Western Hills and remembered that he liked how he finished a score. Nfor knew Disponette was a soccer coach.
But that day was the start of something more.
“I was looking for a replacement and he showed up on the field,” Disponette said. “I just approached him and started a conversation. I told him I was looking for an assistant and he jumped right on board. We’ve been buddies ever since.”
And from there, a friendship blossomed.
“It was meant to be and from that moment, things have just fallen in place,” Nfor said. “It’s been a great ride and we’re definitely going to keep it going. Once I started coaching under him, that’s where not only that professional relationship grew but also our friendship. Since then I go to his house almost every other week. We just sit and talk for hours on end. Coaching was an avenue to build that friendship and it’s expanded from there.”

Soccer careers
Disponette first got into coaching soccer when the coach of his son’s YMCA team was a no-show.
“When a coach didn’t show someone had to take over,” Disponette said.
From there, he read books, watched videos and went to high school soccer games to learn more about the game.
That led to 24 years of coaching soccer. He’s coached YMCA and club teams in several places, including in Versailles, Harrodsburg and Shelbyville.
He served as the head coach of the girls soccer team at Bondurant for 13 years.  
Nfor grew up playing soccer in Cameroon, where he lived for 12 years before his family moved to the United States 10 years ago.
Nfor played soccer at WHHS and played at Campbellsville University for two and a half years. He transferred to Kentucky State University after his father passed away in 2012.
He coached club level and youth soccer teams, but that conversation with Disponette was the start of coaching at the school level.
“He’s definitely my mentor as far as how to work, especially in the school setting,” Nfor said. “He showed me everything that needs to be done. He sat back, watched me mess up and then told me how to fix it. He has just thrown so many things my way and I have just been lucky enough to soak it in, and now I get to use it at the higher levels as I go on and on. There are so many lessons I have learned from working with Coach that I know I am going to implement as a coach.”
After coaching under Disponette with the girls team, Nfor moved on to coach the boys soccer team at Bondurant. And for the upcoming season, he will be the head coach for WHHS boys.
He credits Disponette for getting him into the school system and giving him the experience that helped him get where he is now.
Health setback
Disponette’s health led to him to resign after this past season. In January, Disponette found out he had melanoma and had an operation done for it Feb. 3. Then, in March, a biopsy revealed he had throat cancer. He underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy as well as 35 days straight of radiation.
He had his last treatment a month ago and gained the ability to talk again around a week ago.
“I thank God because I couldn’t do all that I have done by myself and for also getting me through the condition I am in,” Disponette said.
And even through this rough time, Disponette enjoyed the World Cup along with Nfor. The two used it as a coaching tool.
“We spoke in advance about an upcoming game, made a prediction on it and then we met up and talked about it more,” Nfor said. “Spending that time together, interacting and trying to learn as much as possible from each game and why somebody was doing what they were doing is what our relationship has been built on.”
After being homebound for a few months, Disponette is now able to go back to the place he loves.
“When I can get up and walk, I come to the soccer field,” Disponette said.
Although, his health made him step down from coaching, he plans on returning to the sideline in the future.
“We’ll see where it is,” Disponette said. “I decided to step out all this year. If it all goes well, maybe I can get back into it next season.”
Disponette may not be a head coach this year, but he’ll still be at the soccer field this fall season, watching his friend and fellow soccer enthusiast lead the Wolverines. And Nfor looks forward to what the future brings for their friendship.
“I can never thank him enough and I don’t think there is anything I can do to repay him except maybe bring him a state title,” Nfor said. “I’m going to try to do that as soon as possible. It’s been a fantastic time and I hope we have more fantastic times working together for sure.”

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  • No, ukfan, this is not Topix.  I speak the truth from experience and made no attempt to hide my identity.  

    I got over my personal hurt and anger many years ago, Bodeen, but the anger I feel over my grandchildren never having experienced the joy, happiness, and wisdom that comes from a relationship with a grandfather has only festered with time.  His daughter may have been a difficult teenager and probably remains a difficult adult, but those grandchildren did nothing to merit being totally ignored by Mr. Disponett. They also lost out on knowing his family members because of the lack of a relationship with him, which is even more painful and sad.  Further, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent bilateral mastectomy, so it is even difficult for me to feel sorrowful for him because of his condition.  I never have used my disease to garner sympathy nor foregiveness.  As I said, Bodeen, it is very, very difficult for me to feel any foregiveness for Mr.Disponett and is impossible for me to be congratulatory of Mr. Disponett being a role model to others when he so dismally failed as a role model to his own flesh and blood.

  • Candace thanks for your polite reply. I do not doubt you. You obviously do know by your relationship. I do know that outsiders who think they know what goes on are often wrong and only know one sided tales. Mr. Disponette, although estranged from his daughter, has been a positive role model to others through his coaching and that is what this story is about.

    On a side note. I put two & two together and know your daughters. Although I haven't seen them since my early 20's (went to school with them) I will still call them my friends.

  • Are we now Topix??

  • Oh, yes, Bodeen, I know Mr. Disponett well.  I was married to him.  These grandchildren are OUR grandchildren, the children of OUR daughter, who was a troubled teenager with whom he cut off all ties when she was only 17 and then never attempted any relationship whatsoever with her totally innocent children, HIS FLESH-AND-BLOOD GRANDCHILDREN.  Mr. Disponett certainly was not a caring father to our daughter nor a caring grandfather to his five grandchildren.  Neither she nor the grandchildren ever did anything to this man and even attempted to make contact with him which he ignored.  They certainly did not WALK AWAY.  MR. DISPONETT DID.  He was much more redeeming of HIS SONS with his second wife, one of whom actually attempted to rob Speedway with a shotgun but was foregiven for this act by his father.  He never gave this type of foregiveness to OUR daughter because he hated me after I divorced him due to domestic violence and alcoholism.  As I said, I guess his daughter and grandchildren all should have taken up soccer in order to get any attention from this man.  As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Disponett deserves no parade no matter how he may have redeemed himself with his soccer players.

  • Disponette first got into coaching soccer when the coach of his son’s YMCA team was a no-show.

    candace evidently he was a caring father. Are you sure that you know the circumstances of his alienation to rain on his parade like this. I have a sister and a brother whom doesn't have any relationship with my parents or the rest of us siblings who I grew up with to know that nothing in the way of their upbringing is the reason. They just moved on and even though it bothers my parents to miss out,  it isn't their fault. I have nieces and nephews that I wouldn't know if I ran into them at Krogers or any other place. People are people and some do not value family relationship. It doesn't mean they are bad or uncarring.

  • Excuse me.  I made a typographical error - Mr.Disponett has FIVE grandchildren with whom he has never attempted to establish a relationship, though I'm certain he never would have noticed the error.

  • This article is almost laughable, as Mr. Disponett has four grandchildren with whom he has never attempted to establish a relationship nor ever even met.  It is disheartening to know that he shows this kind of humanity and caring for a total stranger when his own flesh and blood do not even know him.   At least his relationship with this deserving young man shows that, contrary to what most people who know him believe, he does have some semblance of a heart.  Perhaps, his grandchildren should have taken up soccer, then perhaps their grandfather would have shown some interest.