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ClubSpotting With Shairoze Akram

When one thinks of the great Mayo names of the past, traditional ones like Mortimer, Padden and McDonald immediately spring to mind. Due to an ever changing and accepting Ireland, in the future a name like Akram will hopefully not be out of place either. Shairoze had a very different introduction to GAA than a lot of his friends and teammates, but wasn’t long catching up once he got started. Having moved from Pakistan to the very different surroundings of Ballaghadereen, he embraced a game foreign to him while the club embraced and nurtured a fine talent. An All-Ireland U21 medalist in 2016, his work with the GAA in promoting inclusivity in the game is possibly his greatest achievement to date. This week we went ClubSpotting with Shairoze Akram to Ballaghadereen GAA Club.

1. What were your first memories of your club Ballaghaderreen

My first memories of my club are training with the u12s team. I was only after being introduced to GAA so I was trying to get a grasp of the rules initially, which I struggled with for quiet some time.

2. Who were your sporting idols growing up?

To be honest I didn’t watch inter county GAA until I was 16. I was mad into soccer so initially I loved watching Zinedine Zidane especially in the 2006 World Cup. Within the GAA I would have to say my club and team mate Andy Moran, whom I wasn’t aware of the calibre of player he was up until I started watching inter county GAA.

3. What has been the proudest moment of your playing career?

Hard to beat winning the U21 All Ireland in 2016 with a special group of players.

4. Toughest opponent you have faced?

I was unfortunate to pick up Conor Meyler in a Sigerson match for DCU the year St. Mary’s won it out. He’s a very talented player that was operating at a different level that year.

5. Best player you have played with?

I have been lucky to have played with an abundance of extremely talented individuals. If I was to pick one, I would have to say Niall Murphy from Sligo, having played along side him in DCU. A player that has it all and can play anywhere.

6. Any pregame rituals or superstitions?

The last year or two I have started to a Dioralyte mixed with blackcurrant and water before a game. I feel I haven’t prepared properly if I forget to take it sometimes, even feeling dehydrated which could be all in my head though.

7. You moved here from Pakistan in 2001, what are the biggest challenges you have faced personally since you took up the sport?

Initially it was getting to trainings and games this was difficult as my father was the only person that drove in my family, but he also was the only one that worked. Therefore, a majority of the time he was away which left me reliant on my friends parents to whom I’m thankful for. Grasping the rules took some time too.

8. What are your hopes and ambitions for 2021?

With the club it would be great to finish off the year with silverware. On a personal note I’d love to go the full year injury free.

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