College bound Eritrean-American high school football linebacker Rafiti Ghirmai.
The young generation of Eritreans who are excelling in today’s world is growing. Eri-International sports blog has recently been following the success stories of soccer stars in Europe as well as other sports. Let us now introduce you to another outstanding young man who seems to have a bright future as a student-athlete. Surafael Ghirmai known by his nickname “Rafiti” is a junior at Wakeland High school in Frisco, Texas just outside of Dallas.
In order to understand the magnitude of high school football in the state of Texas one just need to look at the media coverage and all the following that goes along with it. While high school football in many parts of America is a way of life in the Lone Star State the game is much more than a sport, it’s a culture.
The blogger has covered high school football in South Carolina where football is also king but in comparison to Texas it is a notch lower. In this competitive sport that requires so much practice and effort an Eritrean young man has been discovered as a top player. What makes Rafiti’s success unique is that he is a linebacker. Rafiti Ghirmai is 6-foot-5, and weighs 290 pounds and just finished his junior season at Wakeland where he was selected to the all district team. For a big lineman his ability to move fast and allow protection for the offense is an important aspect of the game of football.
Rafiti Ghirmai who will be graduating with the 2018 class is very much desired by some of the biggest college football teams. He has so far been offered a scholarship by 16 schools including the University of Texas, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, TCU, the University of North Texas, SMU as well as Baylor University from the state of Texas. He has also attracted out of state power houses like Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Bowling Green, Tulsa, Iowa State, Kansas, UCF and he is only a junior. The list is very likely to grow. What makes this young man unique is also the fact that he is focused on his education.
Eri-International sports blog caught up with him recently for a short interview as he recently participated in a national recruiting event that showcases high school standout football players throughout the United States. The US Army All American National Combine shows the talents of the best high school players. It is an honor to introduce you to Eritrean three-star prospect Rafiti Ghirmai who is ranked as the No. 31 offensive tackle in the country (USA) according to high school football experts.
1. Why football and not another sport? At what age did you decide that you were going to play football?
At first I wasn’t a football kind of kid. But my brother Yafet really pushed me into playing football. He made me do drills and helped me on my footwork. I also had the body to excel in the sport so I pursued it more.
2. As an Eritrean it is not very usual to see an American football player let alone a line backer, when did you decide to pursue that tough position?
I decided to be a lineman after my freshman year in high school. After gaining 70lbs and also gained 5 inches, that’s when I wanted to pursue football seriously and be committed to it.
3. How was the family support from parents and siblings?
Ha! Ha! at first my mom didn’t like football but over time she started to love it because I loved it. But my family’s support is amazing and I thank god everyday for them.
4. You seem to focus on academics as well as your football career and you are setting a good example for many, why is it important to focus on education as an athlete?
You can’t play football forever. One day I will get older or I may get hurt playing the sport, so I’m going to have to lean back on my education, which should always be important to every athlete.
5. You are being heavily recruited by many big colleges, how does it make you feel?
Personally, I never thought or imagined that top South Eastern Conference and Big 12 schools would be recruiting me. I am blessed and that fact that they are interested in me is a huge honor.
6. Anything else you would like to add or any advice you can share to Eritrean-Americans or other immigrants on being a good student-athlete.
To my fellow Eritreans, don’t stop grinding!! No matter what happens always be on your grind 110%.
Thank you for giving Eri-International Sports time to get to know you. Wishing you much success in the future.
Mike Seium for Eri-International sports blog.