In the city of Ottawa there are several different activities to do as a kid. You can do all sorts of things and one of the most popular things for a lot of people would be to get into sports. At the professional level alone the city has a lot of variety when it comes to sports, having the Ottawa Senators in the NHL, Ottawa 67s for hockey, the Ottawa Titans for baseball, Atlético Ottawafor soccer, the Ottawa Blackjacks for basketball and the newly found Ottawa Aces for Rugby alongside some less known professional teams in the city, though at the amatuer level you have the choice of any sport and for Michael Assivero he tested the waters in both basketball and swimming before he’d go on to play football. When he started playing football with the Orleans Bengals in NCAFA he said it was, “different” and explained, “playing basketball you can’t have any physical contact or else you’d get a foul and for football every single play there is physical contact.” Having so much physical contact compared to the two sports he participated in before, though it didn’t take long for him to adapt to the new sport. With the Orleans Bengals Matthew Michael was able to play with and played around a lot of great players, and it was an awesome way for him to be introduced to the sport and have early success in it, “With the Bengals I played with a lot of guys who I ended up playing with at St Matthews like Nathan Casimir, Jaylen Guy and then there were a lot of guys that I didn’t play with but played Bengals and I watched them play like Katley Joseph who is now playing division one football.”
His time with the Orleans Bengals started in 2015 for the Mosquito team and ended in 2018 just before he started to play with the St Matthews Tigers at the Junior Varsity level and even-though it was just a 3 year time span that he spent with them it helped make him a better football player and gave him a lot of knowledge within the sport. When talking about his time playing with the Orleans Bengals and the importance of playing youth football he said, “It was a great learning experience for me and I think it helped me when I went to St Matthews to have played football already.” One thing that he had pointed out too when he talked about how his time with the Bengals helped him in the future was the fact that his playing experience gave him more understanding of the game of football, “Playing football when I was younger increased my football I.Q and that is something I believe sets me aside from other players, and more specifically linebackers.” Linebackers in the game of football are known to be physical, and a lot of the time people are given the idea that the players in the position only are a part of the physical aspect of the game but Matthew Michael is among a number of linebackers looking to change that idea. Using his football I.Q and helping change the idea of the linebacker position, the 6 foot, 180 pound shows his smarts, reading the play and using the fundamentals he’s learnt playing football making himself a threat to the opposing offense.
Talking to Matthew Michael Assivero, I was able to recognize how much he emphasizes his smarts on the field. He makes it clear that he is able to read plays and use his fundamentals to the best of his advantage, though it’s not only him that thinks that way. Many linebackers at the professional and division one level are like Assivero and put their mental aspects ahead of their physical ability on the field. Among the professionals who do exactly that is Christophe Mulamba, a linebacker for the Ottawa Redblacks in the CFL and a former Maine Blackbear at the division one level. As Mulamba watched Assivero’s latest highlight on YouTube he said himself, “He isn’t the biggest and he isn’t the fastest player on the field but he plays big and he plays fast and he plays with a lot of confidence.” and he also thought that the film he saw “reminded me of myself.” he said, “in my career I’ve had a few injuries and its limited my ability as a player because of my physical abilities, but it’s also taught me to be more mental while playing and that’s something he (Matthew Michael) does very well. When I got hurt it was tough for me to adapt to what I can and can’t do but I always knew the game of football and it helped me get up to speed with the rest of the players, that’s something I can tell with Matthew can do very well as well, to be able to matchup against faster players and bigger players and using fundamentals and his smarts.” Even to back that up was Coach Jean Guillaume who actually coached Matthew Michael at St Matthews as he said, “Mulamba is very right with his evaluation and from coaching him first hand you can tell that M&M is a very smart player. He is a straight A student in school and as a player you as a coach don’t have to ask him twice for things. M&M was a freshman playing among seniors and players on victory laps and you could tell exactly how good of a player he was because of what he knew and the confidence he brought on the field.”
Being a young superstar for the St Matthews Tigers defense, Matthew Michael made a total 36 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 safety, 1 interception as well as a defensive touchdown. These numbers showed everything, and so did his film. He was a class act on and off the field, being a rookie on the team he was very well respected by the older players and even the coaches having won the defensive rookie of the year award for the St Matthews Tigers team. Guillaume adds, “He is the real deal. His teammates were amazed by his talent and his knowledge and if you look at what he does on the field and you were to compare him to anyone it would have to be Troy Polamalu.” Polamalu, a 2 time Super Bowl Champion and 8 time NFL pro bowler is an NFL hall of famer. You aren’t going to be saying that Matthew Michael Assivero is an NFL Hall of Famer by comparing him to Troy Polamalu, but you are more looking at the traits that they share and some of those traits and qualities would be the insane athleticism that Polamalu showed in the NFL and Assivero is very quick as well. Not only is he quick but like Polamalu, Matthew Michael also uses his football knowledge to read plays and make decisions in game speed.
All in all, he is a great player, he has shown a lot of what he’s able to do here in Ottawa at both the NCAFA level with the Orleans Bengals and the high school level with the St Matthews Tigers, though it is time for him to go to a higher level to showcase his talent. He has a lot of potential and could very well play at the division one or CIS level one day but to be able to get there he needs exposure, “Its exposure that he needs.” said Jean Guillaume who knows Assivero very well and has coached him, “There is no questioning that he is a talented player. I’ve only coached about 4 or 5 players that played varsity as a freshman and by far M&M was the most developed. He was 4 years younger than a lot of the guys he was playing with and against but was still one of the best players on the field every time he was out there. If he can get the exposure that he deserves, whether it’s him playing in the states or going to a big camp I believe he will get a lot of attention.” Attention is what all football players in Canada dream of getting and for Matthew Michael Assivero its going to decide whether he goes and plays a high level of football or not. The young, fast, smart and physical linebacker has everything it takes when it comes to potential and if he gets the chance he could be a stud at the division one level, will he get the opportunity?