For the third time this inaugural League1 Ontario season, it is Toronto FC Academy striker Molham Babouli taking Player of the Week honours, this time courtesy of a tally to keep a rampant Sigma at bay, and a nine-minute hat-trick versus ANB Futbol the next day.
“Pretty much my mindset is just to score goals,” says Babouli. “I have a whole team behind me who are doing the hard work, and my job on the field is to finish the plays off. Fortunately for me, I have a really good squad that provides me with everything, and I just try and do my best.”
Babouli took over at the top of the golden boot race early in the season, and has led the goalscoring charts ever since. With the season winding to a close, and twenty-one goals to Babouli's name – second place challenger Andrew Ornoch of Vaughan Azzurri is on eleven goals – it is more than likely he will ultimately take the golden boot. So what is his most memorable moment?
“I would say the best performance I had was the last [ANB] game,” reveals Babouli. “I came on in the second half, and one of my best goals this season was the free kick I scored. The only reason I would say that – it's not because of the hat-trick or anything – but that I usually play as a nine or false nine, but due to the circumstances I played as a right wing."
"My coach was giving me good feedback after the game, and so I think being able to play out of position and still do well would represent my best game. Also, ANB are a very good, fast, young, sharp team, so I would say that performance is my best this year.”
For aspiring young strikers, Babouli suggests training one's spatial awareness, and an understanding of the opponent's strengths and weaknesses.
“The most important thing as a striker is getting into the right positions, because then everything else falls into place, but it depends on the team,” explains Babouli. “If there are bigger defenders, I like to drop back to get the ball, put it out wide, and then get into spaces or pockets where the bigger defender can't be.”
“In terms of training, I'm always up against our defenders who put up a really strong fight and put me into positions that challenge my versatility. I do think it's good to work on things on your own too, doing some things that you wouldn't do in practice, maybe on free kicks or penalties, but it's important to maintain yourself and not over-train.”
Coming out of the OYSL system via the Dixie club, Babouli points to significant differences between amateur and professional environments.
“There are some very good teams in OYSL, but in professional you just can't be doing everything. In amateur you can get away with a lot of things, but in the professional system – where it's still very important to work hard, create plays and so on – you have to focus on the thing that makes you standout, and for me here in Toronto it's putting the ball in the back of the net. You might be good at many things, but you have to focus on one to progress.”