Throughout the 2017-18 season, U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our new interview series “Getting to know…”
Name: Mohamed Saidi-Hany
Sport: Men’s soccer
Year of eligibility: Fourth
Program: Physical education and health
Hometown: Tizi Ouzou, Algeria
- What attracted you to l’Université du Québec à Montréal?
The choice wasn’t difficult to make because there were several positive factors that influenced my decision to go to UQAM. First, the school’s location was a big factor because it’s right in the city centre and easy to access. I had also heard a lot of good comments about the university and especially about the program I wanted to pursue, which was very important to me. Finally, many of my former soccer teammates that I had played with since I was 15 years old and also at the semi-professional level were members of the Citadins soccer team. This was obviously decisive for me.
- What’s your favourite memory, and your greatest athletic achievement as a U SPORTS student-athlete?
Honestly, I only have good memories in mind. After winning three consecutive RSEQ championships with my teammates and participating for four straight years in the U SPORTS national championship with a good ranking at the national level, the memories are all awesome. It would be really hard to pick just one. Still, one that often comes to mind is my first year, when we were double champions in the Quebec conference (winners of regular season and the conference championship) and then came in fourth in Canada at the U SPORTS Championship.
My greatest achievement as a student-athlete would be this winter season, when I won the RSEQ’s Outstanding Athlete of the Year Award. For me, the team always comes first, but I have to admit I’m very proud of what I accomplished this winter. Receiving this honour and being named and RSEQ First Team All-Star means a lot to me because it’s a reward for my efforts, and it’s gratifying. I never thought I would win this award, especially considering that I was recovering only a few months ago from a serious knee injury (ACL, meniscus and lateral ligaments). Hope was slim in terms of my return to play, but after a lot of effort and personalized medical care, I made it.
- Where are you hoping your path will take you after university?
I don’t know yet; only time will tell. My main goal is my studies, and playing my sport is a good way to focus on my school progress. I’m at an age where I have to face reality. I gave up on the dream of becoming a professional player several years ago. But I think that after finishing my university career with the Citadins, I will focus on my profession and my studies at the graduate level. It's hard to imagine that someday, this adventure will come to an end, but for the moment I have one more awesome year and I just want to enjoy it with my team.
- Who’s had the greatest influence on your athletic career?
Mostly my family and also some friends. They have always believed in me and have always encouraged me to pursue this passion, to believe in myself and go after my dreams. They’ve supported me through the good and the bad.
- Who is someone in the sports world, past or present, with whom you’d love to have dinner with? Why?
Lionel Messi, without a doubt! He’s a player who had an atypical journey because of his growth hormone problems. Despite this, he managed to overcome the odds and now he’s among the greatest players in the world, if not the best. He’s a small man, but he plays like a giant. What he’s able to do is incredible; sometimes we even wonder if he’s from the same planet. I would like to chat with him and find out how he prepares for games and especially how he manages the daily pressure of always having to be on top.
- What is your pre-game ritual? Do you have any superstitions/idiosyncrasies around preparing yourself for a game?
We have a little pre-game ritual with the team. We gather in a circle in the locker room and we take a couple minutes so that everyone can pray, meditate, and focus on themselves. Everyone has their own method for getting ready. For me, I do all those things. It helps me relax and be calm before getting onto the pitch to start the game.
- What’s your go-to song to get pumped up for practice or a game?
I like to listen to all kinds of music, but mainly French and American rap, because those are the two popular music styles that motivate me the most before games. In the locker room, there are players who come from all backgrounds. So we play many different types of music. It’s part of what makes our team unique.
- What’s your favourite social media account to follow?
I’m not really that active on social media. So there’s no one I love to follow, but I do follow the Facebook page of my favourite team, FC Barcelona. It allows me to keep up to date with recent news and see bits of games that I might have missed.
- If you could try another sport, what would it be and why?
That’s a great question! Honestly, I would say ice hockey. Although my skating skills aren’t very good, it's a sport I've always wanted to play. I think I should start; it would probably be a good opportunity for me to get out in the winter time and enjoy the season.
- What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you as an athlete?
As a competitor, losing a game or the failure of any objective is something that’s always difficult to digest and embarrassing in a way. For me, one of the most embarrassing situations I had was injuring my knee in the 93rd minute of a pre-season game. A few seconds later, the game was over.
These crucial 10 seconds were the beginning of a long nightmare. Now, I laugh about it whenever I’m reminded of it.