Star all-rounder brings home gold

SHIFAAN RYKLIEF

Anies, from Strandfontein, has shifted up a gear since winning gold at the under-17 soccer national championships in Durban, last month.

His father Ismail, a former Premier Soccer League (PSL) player at Santos, said Anies has all the qualities needed to do well in both soccer and cricket, and that he needs to keep up the work he has been putting in.

The Beacon Spurs under-16 captain, Anies, said the experience gained while playing alongside some of the best players in the Western Cape and going up against players from top academies up north has motivated him to improve on his game.

At the weekend, that experience came in hand as he helped both his club and the Mitchell’s Plain Local Football Association (LFA) under-16 district board team to victory in their respective matches.

The youngster scored the winning goal in their 3-2 victory against Stanturf United, during a league encounter in Westridge, on Saturday.

And, on Sunday, he provided assistance to level the score at 1-1 against the Cape District Football Association (CDFA) in an inter-district board match; before banging the ball into the back of the net from a free-kick two minutes before full-time, to snatch the victory.

“We first played a tournament in Oudtshoorn where they picked the Western Cape team who would go to Durban. The Western Cape sent two squads to the national tournament – one was representing the WC school’s soccer and the other came through the club soccer ranks.

“Once we got to Durban we were told that only one WC team could play, and that meant the two WC squads played against each other where they chose a team to play in the champs,” said Anies.

“The national champs was tough but we managed to pull it together and beat Gauteng 2-1 in the final.

“The clash against Gauteng was definitely our toughest match because they had strong players from Sundowns and SuperSport United. I enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot. There were also a couple of PSL players who gave motivational speeches and gave us an idea of what it’s like being a professional soccer player,” he said.

Anies said he usually plays as an attacking midfielder at Beacon Spurs, but was moved to a defensive midfield role in the WC team and managed to score one goal at the tournament.

He said that once he got back to putting on club colours, there was added pressure on him from his teammates who expected a new and improved captain.

“I never thought I’d go this far and play at the nationals because I don’t even train.

“I’m unable to make it to practice with my club because I’m based at the Western Cape Sports School in Kuilsriver the entire week, and only come home on weekends.

“What’s more weird is that I’m at the school for cricket, and here I come back with my biggest sporting achievement so far – which I earned on the soccer field,” he said.

Anies started his soccer journey at Woodlands United at the age of three before he joined Beacon Spurs three seasons later.

A natural flair for sport, the all round sportsman went from playing cricket in the street to bowling his way straight into the Western Province indoor cricket team at the age of eight.

“I’ve never played cricket before and just decided to attend the open cricket trials for the under-10 indoor cricket team,” said Anies.

“I made the WP team and continued to play indoor cricket for the provincial team before I joined Strandfontein Cricket Club two years later.

“I then had to get used to playing outdoor cricket and I remember scoring a duck in my first game but took three wickets,” he said.

Anies has played in various cricket and soccer tournaments over the past couple of years.

He said winning the Best Batsman award at the Blue Bells junior tournament and earning his WP outdoor cricket stripes last year has been his cricket highlights so far.

The all-rounder said even though he’s done really well in cricket, that soccer remains his preferred sport of choice.

“Last year, I won the under-16 Knockout Cup with Beacon Spurs after we beat Westridge 6-1 in the final; and we were runners-up in the under-16 Super League.

“And, this season we are already through to the semi-final of the Knockout Cup and will look to retain the trophy,” he said.

Anies said that if a career as a professional sportsman doesn’t go as planned, then he’d like to pursue a career as a computer engineer.