30 August 2017 – The South African U20 Men’s National Team, Amajita, will be playing two practice matches against England and Brazil.
In the first clash, the South Africans will take on the South Americans on Wednesday, 30 August at Saint Georges Park, Tatenhill, Burton Upon Trent at the home of all the England football national teams.
Kickoff is at 19h00.
The second and final match of the three-nation tournament will be played on Monday, September at the Harrison Park Stadium, Leek Town in Macclesfield.
Kickoff is also 19h00.
Among the 20 players selected for the Burger King-sponsored Amajita squad is Tyrique Bartlett, son of former Bafana Bafana striker and now head coach of Tuks, Shaun Bartlett.
Tyrique is on the books of the Newcastle United Academy in England, and has never played for any South African club. This is also his first call up to any national team.
SAFA Media sat down with him to get to know more about him.
Matlhomola Morake: Welcome to Amajita, how are you feeling?
Tyrique Bartlett: I am really happy to be here, to represent my country is everything a boy could dream of from when he is young. So I am really excited to be here.
MM: Where were you when you received the call-up, and how did it make you feel?
TB:I was actually at home (Newcastle, England) and I got a call from the secretary at my club saying that there is an email from the South African Football Association (SAFA) asking me to be part of their squad for the two matches. I was so excited and surprised, I really couldn’t believe it. And I asked my agent if this was real, if it was really happening to me, and he confirmed it, adding that I must just go out there and enjoy myself. When I asked my club coach, he said I must take the opportunity with both hands and here I am.
MM:When that episode was over, who was the first person you told?
TB:I was my mom and dad, they are the ones that have helped me to get to where I am today.
MM: Talking about your parents, your father is Shaun Bartlett, a Bafana Bafana legend. How difficult is it for you to follow in his footsteps?
TB: From an early age, my dad never put pressure on me. He told me to go out there and make a name for myself. The pressure mostly came from myself because I saw what he did in his playing days, so I was hard on myself than he was on me.
MM:You have never played in South Africa, so who is Tyrique Bartlett?
TB:I am just a boy following my dream. I was never in any big academy or anything, I just used what was given to me and made the most of it and I am here today. All I can say to other people is that they should stay consistent in what they do and they should stay hungry in everything they do – whether it’s football, or being a family man, you can’t be satisfied in anything you do.
MM: Would I be wrong if said your love of football was from your dad?
TB:Obviously his love of football fell on to me as well, and I grasped it from a very young age and I don’t regret the day that I started loving football because this game has done wonders for me and it keeps on doing wonders for me.
MM: Have you ever seen your father play, and how different is his style from yours?
TB:Yes, I watched him a lot when I was very young, but I don’t remember much. He is known as a player that was mobile and he scored a lot of headers in his time. I am the kind of player that holds up the ball a lot and bring other people into play, and I am working on my heading and hopefully one day I will get close to his heading ability – I think I am not too far from him.
MM: How did you end up in Newcastle (England)?
TB:I was on trial at Ajax Cape Town before I moved to amaTuks, and there was a scout who saw me playing. He also saw me again at the Bayhill Tournament in Cape Town and he asked me a few questions like what are your ambitions, where do you see yourself – and I told him that I saw myself in Europe just doing the best I can. He was happy with that, and last year in July I had a trial at Newcastle for a week – I actually took a train from London and on the day I scored two goals, then I trained the rest of the week with the U18 and U23 squads. They were just impressed with what they saw.
MM: Now being in England all on your own from an early age, how did are you managing?
TB:I guess my parents gave me the morals that I needed from a young age so I always stayed focus because I know all the distractions can really hurt you if you are not taught these from a young age. You can really upset your career or your potential career, so I really humbled myself and stayed focused, concentrated on God a lot. I read my bible a lot and spent a lot of time praying and that really helped.
MM: So where do you see yourself in the next few years?
TB:All I can say is I will not put any limits for myself because the sky is the limit and there’s nothing I can’t accomplish right now if I just stay focused, work hard and show my dedication and keep on learning from the people around me, whether it’s small things or big things – we can always learn from other people. The main goal for me is to play in the English Premier League.
MM:How important is playing Brazil and England?
TB:First of all, just being called up to the national team is so important to me knowing that all the people I am representing back home in South Africa – all the fans, my family, friends – and knowing how big it is to them, just gives me the extra hunger that I need to go on regardless of who we play even though we know that Brazil and England are big opponents, we just going to give it our all and we will do our best. It’s going to be tough matches but I am confident we can do well.