Pacific FC are excited to announce they are picking up their club option on Kunle Dada-Luke for the upcoming 2024 CPL season. Dada-Luke, an attacking minded right-back who also has experience playing on the wing, will be entering his fourth season with the club. Kunle Dada-Luke will join fellow PFC fullback Georges Mukumbilwa on the 2024 PFC roster. Georges Mukumbilwa, 24, is entering his third season with Pacific FC being under contract for the 2024 campaign, with a club option for 2025, and will partner Dada-Luke on the left side of the back line.

Dada-Luke, 23, spent his adolescence playing for Toronto FC’s youth academy from 2013-2018 in League1 Ontario and moved up to TFC ll in 2018, playing for the club in the USL. A brief stint internationally playing with Danish club FC Helsingør garnered the attention of CPL club Atletico Ottawa where he signed his first official professional contract in 2020.  The six-foot fullback from Mississauga, Ontario is noted for his speed and athleticism. He was just three years old when he started playing soccer for West Toronto SC.

In 2023, Mukumbilwa signed a new contract with Pacific FC for 2024, with a club option for 2025, that will see him extend his stay on the Island for multiple years. Mukumbilwa was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, fleeing a civil war in his home country. Mukumbilwa initially moved to Winnipeg as a teenager before catching the eye of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC development academy where he proceeded to play from the age of 14 to 20 before eventually signing a contract with Pacific FC ahead of the 2022 season.

Chemistry and Comfort

The importance of chemistry between full-backs is invaluable to a club’s backline as Dada-Luke and Mukumbilwa stalwart opposite flanks. “Our connection off the pitch helps us grow on the pitch. George is more defensive. I’m more attacking minded,” said Dada-luke regarding their relationship and contrasting play styles.

“I know where Geroge will be and I know he has my back on the left side. So I really enjoy playing with Geroge and it helps me attacking as well because he’s a very good defender. So having him on the team is very special for me.”

Mukumbilwa lines up his match-winning penalty that sent Pacific FC to the Quarter-Finals of the 2023 Canadian Championship (Sheldon Mack/Pacific FC)

Mukumbilwa blossomed into an incredibly important aspect of Pacific’s shape both in and out of possession. With Dada-Luke pushing high on the right side to join the attack, Mukumbilwa’s defensive instincts allow Pacific to shift into a back-three in possession and maintain the necessary numerical advantage at the back.

“I know when he goes forward, I have to hold back and keep the team balanced. So our relationship is very important off the pitch as it is on the pitch,” stated Mukumbilwa acknowledging their developing chemistry.

Both promising young players combined for 53 appearances during the 2023 season, gaining a level of comfortability within the Pacific FC system and each other’s strengths.

Taking on More Responsibilities

Mukumbilwa and Dada-Luke will be 24 entering the 2024 season, but their experience with the club has given them the opportunity to take on senior roles for PFC and they understand the responsibility that entails. “We let our work do the talking, and for sure this year we have to step up and be more vocal people; leaders,” said Mukumbilwa, on entering his third season with Pacific FC.

Dada-Luke is approaching his 100th appearance with Pacific FC, dating back to the club’s 2021 CPL Championship season. A fan-favourite, and one of the more experienced players in PFC history, Dada-Luke feels comfortable taking on more responsibility.

Kunle Dada-Luke gets past Isaiah Johnston during York United’s last visit to Starlight Stadium (Sheldon Mack/Pacific FC)

“Being one of the vets coming into this year, I got to be more vocal. At least helping the new guys coming in to learn how we play the PFC way, the philosophy; but I want to take on that role. I think I’m comfortable with it and it’s time to take the next step.” Both players are looking forward to more active roles in the development of Pacific FC’s young players as prospects work their way through the system.

Entering the 2024 CPL season, both players are holding a high standard with personal goals to etch their names into the CPL Best XI. As far as the team, Mukumbilwa and Dada-Luke are aiming to lift a trophy by November of this year.