Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tidjani becomes first Cardinal to receive Elite 20 award

Abdousabour Tidjani, a sophomore biomedical sciences major and forward for the men’s soccer team, became the only SUNY Plattsburgh athlete to be awarded the SUNYAC Elite 20 award.

The SUNYAC Elite 20 is an award modeled after the NCAA ELITE 90 program and recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the conference championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers.

Tidjani grew up in Lomé, Togo, and moved to Plattsburgh with his family a few years ago. He then graduated from Plattsburgh High School and started college in SUNY Plattsburgh two years ago.

Growing up in a family that loves soccer, soccer was the first sport introduced to Tidjani. Surrounded by people loving the sport, he kept playing the sport since he was a kid and fell in love with it, too.

In Togo, Tidjani didn’t have a chance to play for a team, and when he moved to the U.S., he played for a club and joined the high school soccer team. The enjoyable experience led him to try out for the SUNY Plattsburgh soccer team.

Graduating from high school at the age of 16, Tidjani decided to stay in Plattsburgh and attend SUNY Plattsburgh as his desired major was provided all the while staying close to his family.

“Once I graduated high school, I’m like I definitely have to try to make the team. Everyone was telling me I couldn’t make the team, but I didn’t let that stop me.” Tidjani said with a glow in his face. “I just tried out and did my best and I made the team.”

When Tidjani tried out for the team, he was not confident in himself. He said his parents played a big role in his successful tryout as they pushed him to work harder for it.

Being the youngest in the team, he did not feel excluded as he just tries to fit in, be respectful and know his boundaries.

“I don’t let [my age] play a role in the things I do and how I act around older people than me,” Tidjani said.

In his freshman year, he expected to have more play time.

“Nobody loves to sit on the bench every season, but you got to think about the team first. So all I can do is, honestly, work harder and harder and harder.” Tidjani said.

While Tidjani is committed to soccer, he is focused on his studies and has a cumulative grade point average of 3.91.

“We care about the Plattsburgh soccer team a lot, but ultimately what they do in the classrooms is what matters and what’s gonna help them,” men’s soccer head coach Chris Taylor said.

Tidjani showed gratitude to his parents, SUNY representatives, the coaches and his teammates. To him, this award does not just represent him but also represents the team.

“It’s definitely an honor. It shows how much dedication and hard work you put in throughout the semester,” Tidjani said. “But then again, God made it all happen.”

Taylor said it was not surprising when he heard the news as the team knows Tidjani is smart. It was nice for the school and the program with Tidjani being rewarded for his hard work, Taylor said. He also said Tidjani does not just focus on his academics but also help others academic-wise when they needed it.

While Tidjani is successful in his academics, Taylor said Tidjani has clever skills and ingenuity in his play. Taylor said Tidjani has great balance and agility when he gets knocked by bigger guys. He finds a way to bounce off and turn the situation to his advantage. The unique point of Tidjani is that he is a left-footed soccer player.

“He’s dynamic. He’s a young guy, a little smaller than most of the guys but he’s strong because he’s got a good mentality and he’s tough,” Taylor said. “He’s a little bit of the unpredictable.”

The only thing for Tidjani to improve on is consistency, which Taylor said it comes with maturity, age and that is something Tidjani does not necessarily have and cannot control.

While Tidjani does enjoys other sports like table tennis and basketball, his commitment as a student-athlete has always been to the soccer team and academics. It is tough for Tidjani to balance between soccer and academics but the key is organization.

Tidjani said when it comes to soccer and academics, academics always comes first. His parents always told him academics is the main priority. He made sure he set time to fulfill his responsibility as a student and enjoys soccer in the weekends and practices.

With the soccer season wrapped up, he said the SUNYAC conference finals was one of his most memorable moments as the team trained hard and played to their full potential against Oneonta.

Taylor is proud of Tidjani’s achievements, and he believes Tidjani will continue to exceed all expectations.

“I hope that in the future, we’ll be able to lean on Sabou’s comeback, so our soccer program can give the next guys advice because he’s going to have a lot of lessons after his name,” Taylor said. “He’s going to have a lot of achievements on his resume, and he’s going to be an inspiring guy for the next generation.”

Tidjani’s focus now is playing soccer and getting good grades, and time will tell where his future lands. However, he definitely sees himself playing soccer in the future.

“I will play [soccer] ‘till I can’t get up from my seat anymore,” Tidjani said

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