Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Player Profile: Riyaad

Name: Riyaad
D.O.B: 04/04/1988
Position: Left Wing / Left Back
Personal Description: I'm originally from Retreat in Cape Town. I live with my mother, my sister and two brothers. I like to play football and watch cricket and rugby, and I like to listen to hip-hop and R&B
Favourite Player: Javier Hernandez
When did you join the academy: 2011
What do you want to do in the future: To find work and carry on playing football in the Super League or higher.
What have you learnt in the Academy so far:
  • Discipline mostly
  • Gained more faith and knowledge about God
  • Learnt a lot from life skills, especially what to do with my money

Riyaad has been with us since the start of this year after he was successful in the trial that we ran back in April. Riyaad was one of the trialists from Drakenstein, so he'd been training with the side since January, but he was officially made part of the team after he was successful in the trial (like the rest of the Drakenstein trialists). His natural position is left back, but he also plays well down the left wing, which is where we started him in the first few months. We chose him to play in that position due to his crossing ability on the wing, but we have since changed tactics to put Nkosinathi (Sister) on the wing and Riyaad at left back in place of Jason, who has been injured. Riyaad's strengths as a player are definitely his crossing and his ability to run with the ball, although he has some skill in all areas of the game. This is why we feel comfortable playing him anywhere on the field as we know he'll do a job. In defence he is good at getting forward and overlapping, and is generally good at 1 vs 1 defending, he just needs a bit of work in positioning. All in all, though, he has the potential to be a good little winger and with continued effort there's no reason why he can't play at a good level when he gets out.
Riyaad (middle) doing a training exercise with Romano (left) and Wakka (right).
Unfortunately Riyaad has had a bit of an injury prone season this year, mainly with an ankle injury that sidelined him for a good month, but now also with a back problem as well. This has meant that he's been in and out of training, and in and out of form this season, but the good thing to see is that when he has regained his fitness he has usually got back into form quickly and right back into the first team. Also, being the only Muslim in the room, Riyaad had the month of Ramadan back in August, during which time he moved to a Muslim cell and fasted for 30 days. It is a real testament to his character and commitment that he still requested to train with us during that whole month, which is no small feat when you consider that he trained with no food or water and sometimes in over 30 degree heat. Nevertheless, it was obvious the effect that this had on his overall fitness, so he didn't get too much game time in that period either. When he has been playing, though, Riyaad has been a very useful member of the team, popping up with goals and assists here and there, as well as doing a job for us at the back.
Riyaad with the team just before kick off.
Riyaad loves his football and he's a big Man United fan, so he's obviously the one in the room with the most intelligence ;). Surprisingly though he's only one of two guys in the room who support United, with the rest of the guys supporting either Barca or Liverpool generally. Every time we go in me and Riyaad have our 5 minute 'United chat' where I give him the update on the United results and team news, and he gives his ideas on where they're going right or wrong. Unfortunately these chats haven't been so lekka recently as we've had to discuss the ins and outs of why United got caned 6-1 by City, but its good to be humbled sometimes as United fans otherwise we get too used to the glory. I said to him recently that one day United will get relegated, and on that day I'll still be there supporting them, but he didn't seem to think that'd ever happen (the United getting relegated part that is). Riyaad also supports local team Ajax Cape Town rather than the bigger Soweto clubs in Pirates and Chiefs, which again puts him in the minority in the room, but that's the rule in supporting a club...you can support more than one team if you want, but at least one of them has to be local (for me its the good old Boro...Stevenage).
Enjoying Coach Bully and Coach Mikey's kwai braai at Zola's farewell.
As I said, Riyaad is the only Muslim guy in a cell with many Christians and in a programme run on Christian principles, but its good to see that there is a mutual respect in the room and its good to have him contribute and voice his opinion in the life skills sessions. Recently he went to the parole board and he asked us to pray from him, which was obviously very encouraging for us as coaches to hear. In terms of his character, I'd say that Riyaad is a fairly laid back guy, who is always up for a laugh and is easy to talk to. He is also an intelligent guy, not just in his knowledge of football but also when it comes to life as well, as even though he doesn't speak too often in the life skills, when he does it is usually something wise and worthwhile hearing. I'm not entirely sure where Riyaad is at with his schooling, but I'm sure that he could pursue it to quite a high level if he wanted to.

Mid-game, Riyaad (No. 17) watches over the game.
So, Riyaad should be getting out in the next month or so, where he will go back to Retreat in Cape Town. He has said to us that he wants to really push on in his football when he's out and play at a good level, and with enough hard work then there's no reason why not. Riyaad seems like a solid character, and I'm sure he'd be the first to admit that he's learnt a few things since being in the academy, so I'm sure he'll do well when he's back in Cape Town. He'll get out after me and Bully will have left back for the UK so I'll be interested to hear about his progress when Bully meets up with him next year. Good luck Riyaad.

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