Saturday, 28 December 2013

Alusine Fofanah - A name to remember

Image Courtesy of Quarrie Sports Photography 

I was asked recently to do a piece on a 16 year old from the Foxtel National Youth League team.

At the time I knew little about him but by the end of our chat I found it extremely difficult winding up as each question I asked left me wanting to know more about this humble, polite and intriguing young footballer.

The name would indicate that he’s not from these parts. In fact Alusine Fofanah’s journey just to get to his destination in Western Sydney is longer than most footballers twice or even three times his age.

Alusine is from Sierra Leone; a small country perched high on the western coast of Africa. It carries a dark civil war plagued history and like so many African countries is abundantly rich in gold and diamond deposits. However Sierra Leone still suffers with close to 70% of its population in poverty.

Uncertain of the future, his parents made the tough decision to leave their birthplace in favour of a better life and opportunity for their young family. The decision meant the arduous and brave journey to become refugees and move to Australia coupled with sacrifices that ordinary Australians would struggle contemplating.

Alusine’s parents left their son in his grandparent’s care for close to three years before they could all be together again.

From the ripe old age of six, Alusine’s love of the round ball began after watching the 2006 World Cup semi-final between Portugal and France. It was a young player by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo that caught his eye and implanted a footballing dream that has never been erased.

Alusine has worked tirelessly on his game ever since and continues to do that little bit more each day to realise his dream of living out a professional football life in Europe.

For now he couldn’t be happier living and playing in “the best country in the world” and being part of such a professional club at the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Unlike many players his age, Alusine’s talent was on show at the age of 14 after a successful trial offer materialised with English giants Manchester City last year.

The chance to impress could not have gone any better after converting six goals in two matches with the Under 18 squad. The difficulties with passports and visas saw the chance to part ways with his family too large a burden in the short term.
“The experience playing in Europe was quite surreal and at times I found myself pinching myself whilst trying to keep my feet on the ground”
“I understand I still have a plenty of hard work ahead of me but I am blessed to be working with such fine coaches like Tony Popovic and Trevor Morgan at the Wanderers.”
The biggest challenge that faced Alusine upon arrival to his new country as an 11 year old was the language barrier.
“I had to work extremely hard on my English and it made it that much harder to make friends.”
When asked who has been the biggest influence on his football journey to this point, the answer was heartwarming at the very least.
“I was lucky enough to meet to two great men in George and Tass Markos.
“These two gentlemen have helped support my family and I and continue to do everything in their power to make my life on and off the pitch as easy as possible.
“Their generosity is astounding and their ongoing advice and guidance has kept me grounded, out of trouble and I have matured since knowing them.”

Be sure to take note of this young man’s name, Alusine Fofanah, as he has the potential and drive to be anything in this great game but for now it’s all about the next game the opponent and becoming a better player each and every week.

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