Alexander Jibrin talks football in Finland and working with MAAT Sports

Alexander Jibrin, a 21-year-old Finnish Footballer, talks to Sportageous, as we follow his career from Nigeria to Finland. The young midfielder shares what it has been like to have MAAT Sports represent him as an emerging player.

Hear his story alongside MAAT sports, the agency that supported him through the journey.

Jibrin aims for a shot during a practice session
Alexander Jibrin aims for a shot during a practice session. Source supplied

Zushan Hashmi: What has it been like, moving to Finland at such a young age?

Alexander Jibrin: It has been great from my perspective. Coming to Finland at the age of 17 gave me the advantage to take up opportunities such as education. I had not realised that there’s a possibility of combining both sport and studies, so, I took it.

Since age was on my side, I could decide on taking a step towards building a concrete future (education). Also, I had people around me who guided me into seeing the importance of what it is like to be in Europe at a young age, so it was great. 

What were some of the challenges of moving from Africa to Europe, and why?

Well, I will say the weather, because it was completely different and still is, from what we have in Africa and training in such weather is tough, both physically and mentally.

But, as I said earlier, I had guidance from people around me who were concerned about my wellbeing, so that assisted me to get through the tough times, earlier on.

The language was one the challenges as well; in the sense that instructions during games and training were in Finnish and I just had to figure it all out.  

Tell me a little bit about your football career?

So, it all started as a kid. I have an older brother who is a professional football player and head coach at MAAT Sports, he is my role model. It is because of him and God that I am here today, his name is Augustine Jibrin.

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Over the years, growing up, I became passionate about football and took it up as a career. I was in a few teams back in Nigeria, mostly through academies. I came to Finland in 2016, signed my first professional contract with OPS (Oulun Palloseura) which happened to be my brother’s team as at that time.

Meanwhile, because I was underage when I came [at 17]  I could not play any official game since I was not an EU registered player so I have to wait until I was 18 to be able to play.

When I turned 18, I was transferred to OTP (Oulun Työväen Palloilijat) where I had my first official football season.

After my time at OTP, I moved on to play for OLS (Oulun Luistinseura) then to AC Oulu, my current team and this year happens to be my second season with the team. 

My advice to them is to keep believing in yourself, in your dreams, and to remember that coming to Europe or playing in Europe during the early years does not mean all is now well and good.

How would you say you have adjusted to life here?

I will say that I have adjusted to the environment very positively, many thanks to everyone who has played a part in my journey and helped me with settling down.

Another factor that has helped me adjust well were the education opportunities. Studying the language during the early days has helped me a lot and now I am studying a profession in the Finnish language while I play football. 

You are signed with MAAT Sports, tell me a little bit about how they have assisted you with life in Finland, but also with establishing your career?

My football journey with MAAT Sports began about a year ago and they have been of great help to me.

As a football player, what is needed the most in this field of work is exposure, branding and opportunities to reach out and this is what MAAT Sports is offering me. 

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They gave me balance seeing myself with outstanding achievements, possibilities and gave me the access to achieve my goals as a football player.

What are your future ambitions in football, and what would you like to achieve? Why?

I would like to play in one of the biggest leagues someday and win as many trophies as possible. I want to achieve greatness in football because I want to be one of history’s written memories. 

And now that football is back, what is on your mind and what has it been like to return to action?

Football is a part of me already, so it being a part of my life, is an expression of myself.

The entire journey, the feeling of returning to the game (training and matches), putting in the hard work and coming together with the teammates again is amazing. 

Alexander Jibrin in competitive spirits as he plays a match (MAAT Sports)
Alexander Jibrin in competitive spirits as he plays a match. Source supplied

From the perspective of your football journey with MAAT Sports, any words of advice can you give to players outside of Europe, particularly back in Nigeria, regarding playing or coming to play here in Finland?

My advice to them is to keep believing in yourself, in your dreams, and to remember that coming to Europe or playing in Europe during the early years does not mean all is now well and good.

Irrespective of where you find yourself if you want to be successful, keep working hard and do not stop trying to be better than the who you were yesterday.

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You can check out MAAT Sports here 
Sarah Fatima assisted in the curation of this article. You can follow her on Linkedin

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