Some moments stick with you for your entire life. For football star Remi Dujardin, one such moment was his first game for Saint Bonaventure University (SBU) in the United States. “As we lined up in front of the stands, my name was called out and it was greeted with applause,” he recalls. “When the American national anthem started playing, I knew that a new episode in my life had started.”
Dujardin, 18, a former student of French International School of Hong Kong, played for Hong Kong’s national team before moving to the US last year.
But it wasn’t an easy road. “When I was younger, I had the opportunity to train with the national team with players two years older,” he says. “However, I was dropped and this was very tough on me as it had negative consequences on my football performance as well as my life outside of the game.”
But Dujardin says that one of the most important qualities of a successful athlete is knowing how to recover. “I was able to bounce back and the reward for this hard work was being selected to play for Hong Kong in the HKFC Citibank Soccer 7s where we played against Aston Villa and Leicester City.”
Dujardin says he has seen many of his teammates cave into the pressures of the sport, especially in Hong Kong. “Studies often take over sports in Hong Kong and I find it very [difficult] when a teammate has to quit because of public exams in the coming year,” he says.
Last year, Dujardin received a sports scholarship to play at SBU. But nothing comes without hard work, especially a scholarship. “The process of talking to schools took two years, as there is a lot of paper work to take care of,” Dujardin says. “I had to take the SAT to show my academic level and talk to the NCAA [North America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association] to prove my amateur status. Football wise, I had to prepare a highlight video and talk to various coaches to get a feeling of which school I wanted to attend.” But in the end, he says, it was all worth it.
Now Dujardin has started the next chapter in his football career, having signed with the Rochester River Dogz, a semi-professional football team in the US National Premier Soccer League. The season starts on May 14, and Dujardin says he has a lot to do before then. “I will keep working hard on the field and in the gym so that I can be ready for the season,” he says. “We have mandatory strength and conditioning sessions which will help me as football in the United States is very physical.”
But overcoming obstacles is nothing new to Dujardin, who has fought and worked hard for every victory in football. “I am not the most talented player out there but I am willing to work hard and to do whatever it takes to reach my goal,” he says. “Dedication is very important because it is very easy to be distracted by other things, which can turn you away from your target.”
Dujardin says that self-belief is crucial for success. “An athlete without confidence and belief will not be able to express their ability on the field,” he says. “Coming back strongly from setbacks is key to being successful.”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Creed, directed by Ryan Coogler. The game of soccer is full of ups and downs but what matters most is to persevere and preform on the highest stage
If you could have any superpower for 24 hours, what would you choose and how would you use it?
I would choose to be able to fly. There are so many places in the world that I really want to visit. It would also allow me to go back home to visit my family.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
My mum’s cooking. I really miss home cooking and the school food is nowhere near as good.
Ten years into the future, you are a famous athlete. What company would you sign on as spokesperson for, and what product would you promote?
Adidas. They have always remained consistent whether it is in the football industry with football boots, or in the fashion industry with their sneaker.