Over the past few years, I’ve watched and played soccer with Tokelo Gugushe, also known as Tiki. He has great speed and skill with the ball and is also a creative player. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiki through email recently.
When and why did you start playing soccer?
I started playing as soon as I could walk. Soccer in my country (South Africa) is the most popular sport, so from a very young age children are exposed to the beautiful game.
What position(s) do you play?
I play all right wing positions from right back to right mid to right wing-forward. I’ve also played as a forward but I found I was more effective on the wings.
What teams have you played for?
I’ve played for a few local teams in South Africa. When I got to the states I played for my high school (Stoughton) and CLC (now Eastern Mass FC). I moved on to play for Merrimack College and the Ottawa Fury in the PDL.
Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Never really believed in rituals, but I say a quick prayer before a game.
Who is your favorite professional soccer player?
I have two favorite players. Eric Cantona, who is a Manchester United legend, and Zinadine Zidan aka Zizou. These two changed the art of soocer and I grew up watching them both with great amazement at some of the things they could do on the field.
Who is your favorite professional soccer team?
That’s easy…MANCHESTER UNITED. Now most people who ask me this and hear my answer accuse me of being a band wagon fan, but I have supported the Red Devils for as long as I’ve been playing soccer. My dad told me about the day i made the decision that they were my club. I was very young watching Arsenal vs Man Utd with my dad who was a die hard Arsenal fan and my dad was very into the game. To cut a long story short, Man Utd won the game and my dad was furious. I was amused by his reactions and made the decision that this team was mine and haven’t looked back since.
What advice would you give to youth players looking to become better soccer players?
One of the most underated ways to become a better soccer player is to watch the game. Watch as many games as possible because after a while of watching how the best in the world do it, you will subconsciously start to develop their habits. Now don’t get me wrong, just because you watch 20 games a week is not going to make you the next Cristiano Ronaldo. You have to practice, practice, practice. Don’t just play soccer when you have official practice with your team. Get together with friends and play some pick-up games. If you read up on most of the top players in the world (Messi, Ronaldinho, Henry, and more) learned most of their moves in the streets with their friends. Watching soccer will boost your soccer intelligence and playing as often as possible will improve your skills.
Do you play any other sports besides soccer?
I used to play cricket and rugby. Both were very popular in South Africa as well.
Thanks Tiki for taking the time to interview with Sideline Soccer. We wish you continued success with your soccer career!