Tariq on right foot

2016-01-27 06:00
                                                        PHOTO: BRad morgan Dan Haswell (left) and Mike Dibben (right) welcome Tariq Whiteman to Maritzburg College.

PHOTO: BRad morgan Dan Haswell (left) and Mike Dibben (right) welcome Tariq Whiteman to Maritzburg College.

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MARITZBURG College has a long and proud sporting tradition, but Tariq Whiteman, who started at the school this year, has achieved a new milestone by becoming the first boy in the 153-year history of College to be awarded a football bursary.

The master in charge of football at the school, Mike Dibben, had been working on organising a football bursary for some time and it was finally given the go-ahead this year.

“They gave me a few names and I went with first team coach Mark Trout and watched a few kids play here and there, and Tariq was the one we were most impressed with.”

Tariq attended Pelham Primary last year, playing in the first team as either a left wing or a striker, although, he admitted, striker is his preferred position. He models his game on Ronaldo, his favourite player. “I feel that he is inspiring and he is a good soccer player. I try to do the things I see him do,” Tariq told The Witness recently.

Commenting on the awarding of a football bursary, Dibben said: “It definitely reflects a growing interest in football at College. We have got more teams every year, and more and more players are making it professionally.

“We have got Bandile Shandu and Ryan Moon at Maritzburg United, so we have a few players coming through the ranks, which is nice.”

Moving to Maritzburg College was a nerve-wracking experience, but he had settled in, Tariq said: “It was kind of scary coming to College at first, because of all the traditions that they have, but I got used to it in the first few days. I am adjusting nicely.”

Dan Haswell, who runs the Soccer Kids development programme, previously coached football at College and helped the school with their talent search. He was thrilled to see a bursary for the sport being awarded: “It’s something that we were pushing for for a number of years and I think with the success of boys coming through we were getting closer to this point. College is famous for other sports and there is no reason it can’t be famous for football as well. It’s not about starting a revolution. One doesn’t have to affect the other. It has become a school that caters for boys playing all types of sports, as well as top academics.”

Tariq was a player that Haswell had kept his eye on for some time, having first noticed him as a player at the under-six level. “I noticed his movement and his quick decision-making,” Haswell said. “At that level, it’s obviously still early, but his parents got him involved in my development programme so he would be training on the weekends and school holidays, wherever we could fit it in.”

The awarding of the bursary, Haswell continued, showed that football is becoming increasingly popular in South African schools.

“It is a fact that with the demographics being more fairly represented that football is growing in schools throughout South Africa. Kids should also have the opportunity, as they do in academics, to pursue whatever they’re good at. Schools should offer a variety of sports.

“That’s why Tariq is fortunate as well. He won’t be playing just football, and that is also important for his development.”

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