A-League rising star’s South American adventure

A stint at one of Argentina’s biggest clubs gave Melbourne Victory midfielder Rashid Mahazi the impetus to carve out a career in the Hyundai A-League.

In his formative years as a footballer, Melbourne-born Mahazi was part of the Rowville Sports Academy, with its football program run by decorated Scottish manager Stuart Munro.

An opportunity then presented for Mahazi to be part of the youth program at CA Independiente in Buenos Aires.

“There were a couple of us that he (Munro) believed in, and he set us up with an agent who just happened to be Argentinian,” Mahazi told For Vuck’s Sake.

“We headed over there for some trials and then after a little bit of training we found a good club and we stayed there for a few years.

“It was a good experience. It was life-changing in the sense of outside of football, having to grow up and not having your family around at a young age.

“I went over first when I was 17. It was my first time living out of home.

“In terms of football, I think I developed a lot, both physically and the mental side of the game. I learnt a lot from being over there.”

Mahazi, who turns 23 next month, is now an established member of the Victory squad, with 59 Hyundai A-League matches to his credit over the past three seasons.

He has stepped up in the absence of club captain Carl Valeri, playing 22 games so far this season, 15 as a starter.

“This is my third season and it’s the most games I’ve played in a season since I’ve been here,” he said.

“In that sense, it’s been an exceptionally good experience that I got the chance to step up and play some games and get some consistency under my belt.

“To get some really good fitness into my legs that I probably didn’t get to do too much over the last two other seasons, simply because I didn’t play as regularly.

“It’s been a really good season for me. I’ve enjoyed playing a lot of football and being involved a bit more.”