By Fred Kaweesi
WHEN Ibrahim Sekagya first checked in at New York Red Bulls for his first training session on June 26, he had no idea of what to expect.
He had no clue of why the club had pursued him for over six months and no friend(s) to confide in or guide him if he eventually decided to sign with the club.
But there weeks later on July 11, the former Cranes captain signed a two-and-a-half -year contract with the club.
In this exclusive interview, the Ugandan defender talks about his life in New York, how he has managed to settle in and what it feels sharing a dressing room with former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
Ibra, it’s approximately three months since you joined Red Bulls New York. How have you found life in New York?
Life in New York is good and now that my family is here, it feels even great!
How has your family settled in?
So far not bad. My oldest son has already got friends from his new school, neighbourhood and at the soccer academy. And for the two little ones it has not been any problem as they have already been in day-care.
How would you compare football in the Austria Bundesliga and the Major Soccer League (MLS) in the US?
I can’t really say much since I have been here for only four months so far. But I think the two leagues are totally different, the atmosphere and the systems of playing.
Are there particular individuals that have helped you settle at the club?
I think the entire team has given me a good treat so far! That has helped me build my confidence. I however spend most of my time with Bradley Phillips Wright from England, who I joined the club with. We travel together for training sessions and our families help each other.
What does it feel like sharing the same dressing room with stars such as Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill?
It feels great! You really learn quite a number of things from them, like how to treat one another both off and on pitch and of course a lot more than that.
What would you say has been your best moment so far at Red Bulls?
Apart from playing with Henry and Cahill, there has not been so much so far. The season is still on and hopefully we will achieve a lot as a team.
What are some of the challenges of playing in the Major Soccer League?
The biggest challenge has been the long flights we have to make as a team from one state to another for away games almost every after one week.
Are there particular stadiums that you have found intimidating?
Yes, the Kansas Stadium (50,000 capacity) and the Seattle Stadium (67,000 capacity) so far have proved quite intimidating. You feel the crowd behind their teams. The atmosphere is high up there.
Does that mean that football is such a big sport in the US now?
It’s known as soccer here. Of course it is not as big as basketball or American football but, at least it has a big audience and it really has all the promising signs of getting to the top in a few years to come.
Red Bulls is a multi-national club. What language is spoken most in the dressing room?
English and Spanish are the most spoken.
How is your normal day like?
I report to the club for training in the early times of the morning. We then have lunch at the club as a team. We then return home. I normally straight away go for some rest then pick up the kids from school later in the day. I also go out with my family when it’s necessary. That is how my day ends.
How do you manage to ignore the partying life in New York?
When everyone thinks about the US, especially New York, the first thing that comes in their minds is partying. But that is not really the case. Life in the US is all about working hard. And the moment you become a father, you learn to set your goals and act as an example to your children. Because if they grow up seeing a partying dad day after day, it’s what they will aspire to do. They will imagine that life is all about partying. I want to be a good father.