COMMERCE CITY CO (Exclusive to ColoradoRapids.com) - Rapids goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul has just returned to the United States after getting his first-ever call-up to the Senegalese National Team.
Bouna joined the national team in Paris France for their two matches against Mali and Morocco. Bouna saw action in goal against Mali earning his first cap for his native country. He did not play in the match vs. Morocco.
ColoradoRapids.com was able to sit down with Bouna for this exclusive Q&A to give fans insights into Bouna's experience how he spent his time in France and his thoughts on the upcoming African Cup of Nations!
ColoradoRapids.com:Can you describe how the training sessions went with the Senegal National Team?
Bouna Coundoul: "Everyone there with the national team plays at the highest levels. The coaches aren’t going to teach you the basics like how to shoot but what I noticed is that they will try to gel everyone together. The team only plays about once every two months. We would warm-up for 30 minutes then we would work on defending as a block and attacking as a block."
CRC: Did you know any of the other Senegalese players before you joined the camp?
BC: "I didn’t know any of them personally but one of the guys had heard of me. It was a smooth transition. Everyone is enough of a pro the only difference between some of the players is how much money they make with their respective clubs."
CRC: Were any of your teammates guys that you have looked up to in the past?
BC: "Yes I used to have a poster of the current starting goalkeeper in my bedroom during high school. Now that it was me backing him up it was like ‘Whoa this is really happening.’ Playing with him was good. These guys are a lot better in real person than when you watch them on TV. You can see that they have a lot of skill."
CRC:Do you know if you will be called back up to Senegal's roster for the upcoming African Cup of Nations?
BC: "I don’t know yet. I have to fill out a lot of paperwork right now to be able to be called up. They told me to keep training and to be ready because they might call me up again at any time. I have a good feeling about it."
CRC:When you stepped on the field to play for your country what was going through your mind?
BC: "Pride. I knew that my family and everybody were behind me. It was just like when I step on the field for the Rapids. There are tons of people that I am defending. Everything is on the line my pride and my family. I just do what I have to do. I was a little nervous beforehand but that was all gone when I stepped on the field."
CRC: Did you have any problems communicating with your teammates?
BC: "I was mixing French English and my native tongue Wolof. Sometimes when I try to talk in French it doesn’t come out quickly so I spoke mostly in English on the field. Everyone seemed to understand; in soccer sometimes you don’t have to communicate. Everyone knows what to do. They ended up calling me the ‘American goalie’ because I was always saying ‘keeper’ and everything else in English. It was a different vibe for them."
CRC:What did you do during your spare time in Paris?
BC: "The day after the game against Mali we had the day off so I visited my cousin who lives there. After the game against Morocco I went to see the sights in Paris. I saw the Champs-Elysees and walked around to get a loaf of French bread. I also took a lot of pictures."
CRC: Have you heard anything from your friends and family back in Senegal?
BC: "They said that right now I’m a hero. Everyone is talking about me and my picture is on the front page of every newspaper. People who don’t speak French have their kids read them what it says about the ‘American goalie.’ My family told me every kid back home in Senegal is saying ‘Bouna Bouna Bouna Bouna.’ My family and everyone who knows me is proud of me and what I have done."
CRC: What did you learn from the trip that you could bring back to the United Sates with you?
BC: "Pride. When you step on the field you do it with pride. When you step off the field you do it with your head up. When I wear my country’s jersey I am representing all 11 million people. That means I have a big burden on me so I have to play as best as I possibly can."
CRC:Is there anything else you would like to add?
BC: "It was a fun time and I will never forget it. I wanted to stay there to see my family more than I was able to. Everyone was proud and was supporting me. I just need to keep working hard. Hopefully I will get the chance to play for Senegal again here soon."