Meet Sarawak’s young defender who qualifies to play for Malaysia and Ghana

Did you know Sarawak have two half-Malaysians in their President’s Cup squad? Lee Seng Foo speaks to one of them...

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Rodney Celvin Akwensivie and I was born in Serian, Sarawak in November 1996. My mother is a Bidayuh and my father is a Ghanaian, making me a half-Malaysian. I play as a defender for Sarawak President’s Cup.

How long have you been with Sarawak President’s Cup?

I have been with the team since I was 16 when I was still studying at SMK Tabuan Jaya, which is the only sports school in Sarawak. After I completed my SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia), I joined them on a full-time basis.

Did your parents approve your career choice?

My dad doesn’t really like it because he has always preferred me to focus on my studies. However, my mother has always encouraged me to follow my dreams. Clearly, I have listened to my mother. [Laughs]

How would you describe your playing style?

I would say I am a robust defender and I do not shy away from making challenges. I am slightly bigger than most of my peers, so it is easier for me to dominate my opponents. However, because of that, I often get cautioned by the referee. In fact, I think I got the most yellow cards in the 2015 President’s Cup!

Are there any players that you look up to in Malaysia?

Marcos Antonio and Ronny Harun. I consider them to be my idols and the best defenders in Malaysia.

Peter Frank Brown is another half-Malaysian playing for the team. How do you find having another mixed-Malaysian around?

We are quite close and often joke with each other, but I do not just hang out with him. I get along with all of my team-mates.

What do people make of it when they find out about your mixed heritage?

I often get weird reactions, especially from our rival teams. I know some of the coaches have actually questioned my eligibility to play in the President’s Cup, which only allows local players to compete. [Laughs]

What are your ambitions in football?

Needless to say, I want to play for the national team in the future.

Which one?

[Laughs] Malaysia, of course. Even if I get to choose between both national teams, I will still want to represent the Harimau Malaya because I don’t feel any connection to Ghana. I have been in Malaysia all my life, so I definitely want to play for them.