For one who has played football in Wales, England and South Africa, many would have thought joining Harare City at the start of the season was a backward step for goalkeeper Ryan Harrison.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Ryan, son of the club coach Mark Harrison, joined Harare City at the start of the season and was willing to even play in Division One for the City fathers.
Luckily, they bounced back into top-flight football after How Mine pulled out due to financial constraints.
A man on a mission at Harare City, Ryan took a little while to settle, but has since firmly wrested the number one spot from Max Nyamupanedengu.
Obviously, it was his father who convinced him to join the Harare side and he is at the club not just to win trophies.
“I am at the other end of my career. I have been hungry, I have been ambitious, I have been pushing and fighting to be at the top level; and I have been privileged to play at the top level as well,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Sports Hub.
“But this is a different stage of my career, a different time and a time to give back to the game. There are a lot of young players, especially at this club who have ambitions to go overseas and it’s an opportunity to trade secrets on how football is like in Europe,” said the 32-year-old former Bidvest Wits and Golden Arrows player.
Ryan has brought in a new dimension of goalkeeping to local football with his ability to use his feet well — a quality that suits the team’s playing style.
It explains why his father had to move the heavens to bring him to the club.
“He is massively important to us. That is why we brought him because he is very good with his feet. We want to play from the back and he gives us that dimension and tactically he is very aware. He has played in the UK and has played in South Africa and he has played a big part in the way we are playing this year,” his father and coach Mark Harrison said.
While there will always be talk of favouritism, Ryan has justified his inclusion in the starting line-up so far.
He speaks of the pressure of playing under his father.
“I have done it previously, but for a short spell, so it’s not brand new and at the same time it’s not easy. A lot of people say things, but we go over and above that to make sure there is no favouritism. But it’s difficult because we try and over-compensate. Sometimes I don’t shout at people or express myself as I would love to because people would begin to think it’s because my father is a coach. Maybe I am not completely the person I would be if he was not my coach,” Ryan said.
“I am really enjoying my time here because we are playing a nice brand of football, so it’s easy to enjoy when you play like that. I have managed to adapt much quicker here than in South Africa where I played for quite a while. Maybe I came here with a different attitude, but regardless, the boys have been fantastic and the people here are very friendly,” he added.
Harare City are currently in seventh place on the 18-team log standings and have only lost three matches in 21 starts, which is a good shift for a team that could be playing Division One football.
The tall goalkeeper believes he can still play until he is 36, which could be good news for Harare City, if they can manage to hold on to him.
Looking back, Ryan is happy with what he has managed to achieve in his career.
“You can’t look back and regret because you cannot change the past. I have played in the Uefa champions league, with Llanelli in Wales and it was a wonderful experience. I played in the Absa premier league in World Cup stadiums in front of capacity crowds. I also played a cup final in the Millennium stadium at 19 with Wrexham in the Johnston Paint Trophy, so I am satisfied,” he revealed.
Ryan is already thinking about coaching when his playing career ends.
“I have been thinking about it a lot. I run a goalkeeping school in England and South Africa (and I am) already and looking for avenues to start something similar here,” he said.
As for the language, Ryan is grateful that most of his teammates can speak English.
Once in a while he tries to speak Shona with his peers, with little success.