Africa-Press – Rwanda. Rwandans may know Emmanuel Sebareme as a Cricket player, especially after he was handed a call up in Rwanda’s national Cricket team, and little do they know that he is also a gifted footballer.
As a footballer, Sebareme plays as an attacking midfielder for the University of Pretoria Football Club, also known as Tuks FC, in the National First Division, the South African second-tier league.
In an interview with Times Sport, the 25-year-old shared his experience on juggling cricket and football, how he manages them and what the future looks like for him as a cricketer and footballer.
Last month, you were here playing for the national Cricket team but you also play football. What has your football journey been like so far?
I started my football career at a local club in Cape Town at 11. From there, I went to Cape United, a football academy headed by Colin Gie. He’s the one who discovered my talent. I spent four years there, after which I received a scholarship to study in Western Cape where I also played football and became the captain of the University’s first team.
I later joined University of Pretoria in 2019 which was by the time playing in the South African Premier League. I now play for the club’s reserve side.
So are you trying to swap Cricket for Football? Or are you doing both?
I am doing both but I have been doing both in hope that one day Rwanda will notice me and give me a chance. It has worked with cricket but I would like an opportunity with my football too.
Don’t you think juggling both games would put you off the hook and lose focus?
It has always been difficult for me being a foreigner so chances were always limited and I had to use any opportunity that I got to make something of myself. Yes, maybe after I have been given a chance with football, I will then decide what to do.
I think playing both sports has helped me to become a well-rounded player. It also helped me stay disciplined and focused on my goals. I have been doing this for about 10 years now and I feel that it hasn’t been a negative but rather a positive.
What are your chances of becoming successful at both games?
I mean why not, I always wanted to be different and I honestly think that it is possible. I just need someone to believe in me, my talents and what I can do. I have achieved so much just by working hard and pushing myself beyond my limits so when it comes to that question, I know that I can be the best at what I do.
So you have no plan to quit any for the sake of the other?
If the right offer comes then I will have no choice but to focus on the one.
Cricket and football pays for my studies. That is how I manage to study and play sports. Studying is too expensive and my parents can’t afford to pay so I have to play both sports to cover up my tuition fees.
Which one do you prefer then?
I have been asked this on numerous occasions, I grew up with the dream of becoming a professional footballer. It has always been the one thing I wanted my entire life but when I started playing cricket, I also fell in love with the game and I can say that I love them equally. For me, whichever path the universe decides to put me on, I will be grateful because I will still be doing what I love.
So now that you are playing for a South African club, what’s your prospect for your football career in the future?
I know that if I sign pro that I will have to give up one and I know that is the reality. I am just not sure which one to go with but I would love to represent Rwanda at a national level.
At 25, what confidence do you have that you can make it in football, just like you are managing to do so in cricket?
In all honesty, if I had got my permanent residence at a young age, I would have been playing for the national teams. I was always a good player at tournaments from all ages and I played amongst players who have gone on to play for South Africa like Kurt Abrahams, who we played together at Cape United Football club and later he signed for Belgian side Deinze. He was part of the national team recently.
I also played with Renaldo Learner who signed professional for top flight club Maritzburg United as well as former classmate Dillon Solomons who now plays for Moroka Swallows
I used to outperform them for years but, still, I never got the same opportunities they got. So I am confident that when the time comes and I get my opportunity, I will definitely make it.
I think age is just a number and anyone is good enough if just given the opportunity and support.