By Paul Nilsen
|Farhiya Abdi, who is used to having a leading role so far, is perfectly comfortable with the fact she might not be the protagonist at Brno in her rookie EuroLeague Women season|
Rising star Farhiya Abdi is bracing herself as she prepares to live the dream by stepping out in EuroLeague Women.
The Swedish teenager secured a dream move to Frisco Brno earlier in the summer and, not surprisingly, she can't wait to try and establish herself at one of the most famous clubs in the competition.
"I can't describe how excited I am, to be playing in Euroleague Women because it has always been my dream and soon my dream will come true. I'm looking forward to everything and particularly gaining experience with Brno, to become a better basketball player," the Swedish international says.
"I'm just going to put myself out there, learn and listen, because I know that I'm young and not so experienced when it comes to this level. I'm going to practice hard and try to gain as much experience as I can.
"I'm going to learn so much because on the court, there are plenty of important things that can be learned such as the determination and discipline that will help form the things needed to help me succeed later in life.
"It will be a huge step for me so it's going to be hard, I'm aware of that, but I like the challenge because it's going to keep me motivated and keep me working hard," Abdi adds with conviction.
Despite her relatively tender age, Abdi has been one of the stars in her homeland with Fryshuset but will now experience a sea-change in her role at Brno, a club who are not unfamiliar with young Swedish talent having had both Frida Eldebrink and Louice Halvarsson last season.
"Having been one of the stars of the team it's going to be a big change for me since it's not going to be like it was in Sweden. I'm going to be a rookie again! It's like I need to start over and work my way to the top. So I guess this is a new beginning for me," she admits.
"I have spoken to Frida and Louice a little bit about Brno and what they thought about it, and they sounded positive.
This season, there will be a Swedish duo at Brno, since Martina Staalvant will also be at the club.
"Clearly you can never get too much of Sweden or having a Swedish flavour!" laughs Abdi.
"It feels comfortable for me to have someone I know from the same country."
Ask her to explain what fans who haven't seen her play can expect and the forward shuffles uncomfortably.
"Oh I hate these type of questions! I suppose I'm a player who likes to do a little bit of everything from shooting pull-ups, posting up to shooting three-pointers. I'm kind of an all-round player and my strength is that I'm quite tall for my position so that's a good thing.
"I'm a hard worker and focus on weaknesses which some players avoid but definitely not me. I don't want to have any weaknesses on the court, if the defender takes away my shot, I go to another option. I have been working hard on that, so I have more options to go to."
|Abdi made the U20 European Championship Women Division B All Tournament Team, after leading Sweden to the gold medal with 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game|
Abdi showcased her versatility and skills to great effect this year when she participated at the U20 European Championship Women and helped Sweden attain promotion to Division A by claiming the gold medal.
"It was a great tournament and it was fun. It was exciting to play, especially the semi-final, since our goal as a team was to take a spot in Division A next year. That was the only thing that truly mattered," she recalls.
"We fought right until the end and took home the gold and we couldn't have finished the tournament any better. I also made it to the All Tournament Team and I really appreciated it."
Abdi has many things in her life which she cherishes dearly, not only basketball but also her religion which she is currently trying to balance against her sporting ambition with the support of her family.
"I was born in Sweden into a Somalian household and was taught the importance of Islam early on. For those who don't know I'm a practicing Muslim. My brothers and sisters are all at different stages of their religious belief and this is something that I have been able to choose for myself," she explains.
"My parents have always been a big influence on me and they have supported me in my decision to be as religious as possible while still hopefully being a top athlete. I am one of seven kids and since I'm the youngest, that also means I'm the spoiled one as well! My family are very supportive when it comes to me playing basketball."
As soon as she picked up a basketball when she was younger, the Brännkyrka native was hooked. Abdi is now someone passionate not only about the game, but also about having inspiration in her life - something she feels is hugely important for any aspiring player.
"It all started for me during a gymnastic lesson in school when a coach talked about how fun it would be if we, the students, started to play and I decided to try it," she remembers.
"After just one single practice, I started gaining interest and all of a sudden basketball was my lifestyle and now, I can't imagine my life without basketball.
"While still young, I've learned a lot, experienced so much, met new people, seen new places and all while I'm doing what I love to do! That is the perfect dream.
"It inspires me to be able to do what I love and that is to play basketball. Learning something new inspires me. Whether it is a just learning a new move or seeing your idols play. Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker are two great players who have inspired me.
"If I can think about what inspires me, it gives me a goal. So I always find something that inspires me even it is something small, which others might find insignificant."
As she stands on the verge of one of the most important moments in her life to date and potentially going up against her idols, Abdi is just thankful for being able to live her dream and before it happens, made a real point of paying tribute to those who have helped her get this huge opportunity.
"There have already been a few people who have helped me a lot so far. I know that those people know who they are. They also know how much they are appreciated and for this, I can't thank them enough.
"I can't even explain how much they have pushed me and supported me through good and bad times and I'm so thankful for that."