French graduate student shines as UCCS men’s soccer forward

Sporting the number 29, UCCS Mountain Lions men’s soccer forward Marvin Putu is having an outstanding season.

Putu joined UCCS as a graduate student this fall and has had seven goals and six assists over the season so far.

“I know what I’m here for,” he said, and it shows.

UCCS men’s soccer forward #29, Marvin Putu. Photo by Nathan Gicho.

Putu’s family is originally from Congo, and he grew up competing alongside neighborhood children in the suburbs of Paris. “For me, it’s more than a blessing to be born and raised in France,” Putu said. This is where many first recognized his talent.

At 12 years old, scouts approached Putu asking about his interest in playing at a soccer academy, an offer that Putu accepted. Academies develop young talent and give athletes opportunity to move up into the big leagues.

Putu played for the academy for years up until they released him after he graduated from high school. “I was kind of sad, they said I couldn’t make it,” Putu said.

Getting released from a professional academy can be devastating for an athlete, terminating their contract and cutting off their progression to the next level of their sport.

Putu took a break from soccer but picked it up again after moving to the U.S. in 2018. This was not an easy transition for him because he did not speak English at the time.

“It’s just a matter of motivation,” he said. He played for the MSU Billings Yellowjackets for four years before coming to play at UCCS as a Mountain Lion. His time with the Yellowjackets was littered with injuries and he was only able to play one normal season.

With Putu on board, the UCCS men’s soccer team is currently ranked number 17 nationally in the NCAA Division II. This is the first time since 1999 that the team has broken into the top 25 ranking.

“I feel very confident about [the season],” he said. “You can see everybody wants to win, there’s good environment and everybody wants to succeed.”

Putu also spoke on the chemistry between him and fellow Mountain Lion forward, Kolby Raineri. Putu said that Raineri is a good player and a good person off the field as well. In their first season playing together, they have 18 goals combined so far.

“I’ll be happy if I can make a living out of it,” he said. “I would love to go back to France or Belgium and play second or third division league soccer.”

After almost missing out on continuing his sport, Putu realized that he needed to take advantage of opportunities in life. He’s taking advantage of soccer in different ways, which has helped him to further his education and go for a master’s degree. Soccer has also put him in a position to impact others’ lives, especially younger fans.

Putu said that he’s been inspired by people he knows personally, and he would like to do the same for others.