Georgia State soccer player gets an Olympic experience

Rashid Alarape speaking to a referee during a Georgia State men's soccer game. Signal Archives
Rashid Alarape speaking to a referee during a Georgia State men's soccer game. Signal Archives
Rashid Alarape speaking to a referee during a Georgia State men’s soccer game.
Signal Archives

As a child, everyone has dreams. For young athlete, that dream maybe going to the NBA, NFL, or even the Olympics someday. So when a chance to take a huge step toward that dream presented itself, hid Alarape took full advantage.

After a successful sophomore season and a great summer in the Professional Development League (PDL), a coach of Alarape’s gave him the opportunity of a lifetime.

A chance to train with the Olympic Nigerian National team.

“Being in the PDL, I was in the right type of environment, like a pro type of environment to be able to compete with the players,” said Alarape. “And with the help of my coach I was able to get into the camp.”

Alarape had fun, a lot of fun. He loved playing with his country’s team, especially due to the fact almost every player on the team played club football somewhere in the world. He loved the competition that was displayed out there, but what he loved most was the opportunity that came with playing with these top players, the opportunity to measure himself. Surprisingly, Alarape admitted that he feels he belongs with those guys.

“I am up to par with them,” said Alarape. “But it’s just the little things that they do that really separates us.”

Alarape explained it might be cliché, but it is the little things that truly do make the difference. He spoke on their mindset and how they were always ready to train and improve, but also their post-practice habits and the way they took care of their bodies to be ready for the next day. Training with the Nigerian National Team allowed him to pick up all these tidbits to improve his play, and it also helped him develop relationships with a couple of players.

“One player I really got close to was a guy named Sadiq Umar, he was one of the first players to actually talk to me, he plays for Roma in Italy,” said Alarape. “He was one of the top players in the Olympics too, seeing him start in Rio and score goals was pretty cool.”

Sadiq and Alarape developed a mentorship of sorts, regardless of the fact they are both the same age. Sadiq was a perfect mentor for Alarape because he was one of the top performers in all of Rio. He scored four goals throughout the tournament, including a brace against Honduras to secure the bronze medal for the Nigerian side.

Even though Alarape was not able to be a part of the Bronze medal winning team, that did not dampen the experience as a whole, as he looks back at this experience as one of the proudest of his life.

“I remember playing on the field and just having that moment like I am really here,” said Alarape. “Like these are guys you can play with on FIFA, and I’m here with them right now.”

By the time Tokyo 2020 rolls around, Alarape will be 24, making him ineligible for all but 3 of the Olympic roster spots.

But with his talent and the way he has been improving, Alarape believes he can make his dream come true in 2020.

And the rest of Georgia State will be proud to see him do it.

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