By Andy Veilleux
Six-foot-plus, African-born strikers are a rarity in Ontario’s university soccer circuit.
Dieri Drame, whose game can most closely be compared with Didier Drogba of Chelsea and Côte d’Ivoire fame, due to his physical style and goal-scoring pedigree, is one such player.
In the 2010-2011 season, Drame netted two goals in nine games for the Laurentian Voyageurs. This season, Drame caught fire with eight goals in 12 games for the Voyageurs.
Drame is in his second year of eligibility, which means he can still play an additional three seasons at the varsity level (college or university), and second-last year of his French Finance program at Laurentian.
It is worth noting the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) website declares him to be in his second year of his program, and fourth year of eligibility, which is a reversal of reality – it happens.
It would be unrealistic to believe he will once again quadruple his goal total next year, but Drame has his sights set high.
“I will do way better than 8 goals next year,” he said. “My main goal is to be the MVP with LU and the best player in the OUA.”
Laurentian is a defense-first soccer team, and has been for some time. Laurentian University men’s soccer head coach Carlo Castrechino runs a tight ship, as does his assistant Tony Tagliaferro – once a captain and defender for the Voyageurs.
Drame may have a chance at team MVP however, as this season he doubled the next closest Laurentian player, Davor Alisic, in goals. If he can build on that success, he would definitely warrant a consideration.
After taking some time off due to injury (which caused him to miss some time this season), he is working on improving his game.
“I know I need to put more weight and work on my speed,” he said. “As a target man, I need to hold the ball, use my midfielders, and make the runs for long balls. I need to work on the dribbling one on one too. I can do it, I know I can.”
Drame is also looking to be more of a leader next season with the team, especially with a special striker that is coming into Laurentian’s program.
Laurentian will be welcoming in a striker from Drame’s home town of Senegal, which has him excited. He believes the weather will be difficult to adapt to, but the rest of he transition will be easy.
Now let us get to the future of Drame, who will finish his Bachelor at Laurentian, and have two years left to play soccer. He is looking to do a masters, and play his final two years of soccer, but there is an interesting catch.
Laurentian University does not currently offer a French language Master’s Degree in Finance or Commerce.
Castrechino may be nervous following next season. We are talking about an African-born striker that quadrupled his goal total from his rookie to his sophomore season, who is no longer going to be playing for your program.
Obviously, Drame will be seeking a new home come 2013- 2014. While it is possible he will be playing out of “la belle province,” where French master’s programs are wide-spread, he could find himself at other Ontario bilingual universities with programs that suit his needs.
While Drame is not a defensive specialist, spending three seasons with a team lets you learn the team’s strengths and weaknesses well, and practising against their players lets you know their individual weaknesses as well.
Maybe Laurentian will do the coach a favour and announce a brand new masters program, But holidng you breath for it would not be advised.
As for next season, he is focused on pushing Laurentian as far as he can.
“This year we made the last four teams, and I’m 100 percent we will make the last two next year.”
While Drame is focused on his soccer, it is evident he is looking beyond the sport as well. His case illustrates the mentality of the CIS athlete: one eye on the season, and one eye on the future. For the foreseeable future, both feet are firmly planted, however, representing the gold and blue.