Mo better Proteas

2013-09-21 00:00

DURBAN’S Mohamed Mea was faced with a difficult choice on matriculating from Westville Boys’ High.

The SA U17 footballer and twice SA U18 hockey team star was offered soccer scholarships to American universities as well as a bursary to UKZN Durban. While it was a difficult choice, studies and stunning form meant hockey won the race. And at 21, Mea is on the verge of making his debut for the SA senior national hockey team.

“Yeah, it was touch and go,” the final-year Durban Varsity civil engineering honours student told Weekend Witness yesterday. Mea is contemplating reading for his civil engineering masters degree soon, but for now those thoughts are on hold as he looks forward to his debut for South Africa at the Hockey World Cup Africa Qualifier tournament in Nairobi, Kenya, this month.

Hockey being an amateur sport in SA, it is surely tough trying to fit serious studies in with such a heavy training and playing schedule?

“Yes, it is very hard missing several weeks of varsity. When I get back from tours, I have to work extremely hard to catch up. Some nights are even spent at varsity to complete projects and assignments. I have good friends at varsity who keep me updated with what I have missed during my absence,” says Mea, who has obviously impressed the movers and shakers both on the academic front and on the hockey turf.

Senior SA head coach Charlie Pereira told Weekend Witness yesterday that Mea had earned his selection on the back of some solid performances. “Mo’s core skills are good and he has the vision and passing range required at Test level.

“He has shown these qualities over a couple of years now. He has exceptional talent on the ball, and the pace to manoeuvre out of tight positions.”

It is a busy four months until the New Year for Mea, as he is also vice-captain of the SA U21 team that will take part in the 2013 Junior World Cup hockey finals in Delhi, India, in December.

Head coach of the SA Juniors, Darryn Gallagher, also rates Mea highly.

“Mohamed offers a utility option as he can play in defence and midfield. He is an extremely focused person with lots of belief in his ability, regardless of the situation the team is in. This self-belief makes him invaluable, as the other players feed off it.

“His selection in the senior SA team is thoroughly deserved. Mo is an extremely consistent performer, a tough, combative defender who has the ability to add punch to his team when going forward.

“He has maturity in his play and has what it takes to become a permanent member of the SA senior team,” added Gallagher.

Praise indeed, and the powers that be can rest assured that Mohamed Mea will be around for a long time.

“I have a strong support system at home, especially my mother, who has made great sacrifices to make everything possible, both academically and in sport, while my younger brother Javed made the SA U18B again and is in matric at Westville, so family is always wishing the best for me.

“Playing in big events is what all sportsmen dream of. My aim is to be a permanent member of the SA team one day. The senior World Cup in The Netherlands, the Champions Challenge and the Commonwealth Games are much to aspire to next year, while Rio 2016 has been one of my personal goals and dreams from a young age.”

Take note of the name, Mohamed Mea, and watch this space.

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