Ajeej Sarkaria has emerged as a budding Canadian talent following his remarkable performances in the 2016 PDL Playoffs.
The 21-year-old forward scored two goals and provided two assists to help Calgary Foothills FC reach the PDL Championship. Since then, Sarkaria has scored 14 goals – currently a Canada West Universities Athletic Association-high – and provided four assists in 10 games for Alberta. The 6-foot standout has been honored multiple times throughout the college season, including being named Canada West Male First Star of the Week on Sept. 13.
September is Self-Improvement Month, and PDL players and coaches across North America will be working to develop and hone their skills. Focused on the continuous development of the player using the #Path2Pro model, the PDL will take a closer look at how players try to improve their skill sets and physical abilities, as well as look into how coaches try to improve their players, throughout the month of September.
PDL: Describe a typical day in the life of yourself. How often do you train, exercise and practice in a day, week?
AS: I usually go to school in the morning and spend the rest of my day doing schoolwork and hanging out with friends, and then have training around 5 p.m. After training, I get home for dinner and then go to the gym. We train every day of the week and have two games on the weekend.
PDL: Is it important for you to train or exercise on your own and not with the team? Why?
AS: Yeah, I think as an athlete, it's very important to take care of your body and make sure you’re always doing the extra bits. Whether it'd be ice baths and stretching after a weekend of games or going out on to the pitch with a few teammates and working on my weaknesses, I always strive to become better.
PDL: What training drill do you think you learn the most from?
AS: I really enjoy small-sided possession drills because the intensity is always high, and it improves your decision-making and also it really requires good technique under pressure.
PDL: What are your fitness habits? Do you have a workout routine?
AS: In the offseason, I like to be in the gym six times a week. I worked with a few trainers who have customized workouts for me to get stronger and more explosive. During the season, my gym sessions are more regeneration based. Due to the fact that we have two games a week, it’s really important to manage my workload and make sure I’m prepared for the following weekend.
PDL: Do you listen to music when you work out or train? What genre do you enjoy and what are some of your favorite songs while working out?
AS: Yeah, I really enjoy rap and hip hop. My favorite artists are Kendrick Lamar and Jay Z, and I listen to their songs almost every day. Some of my favorite songs to listen to while I work out are probably “M.A.A.D City” by Kendrick and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Jay Z and Kanye [West].
PDL: How many hours do you typically sleep in a night? How important is it for you to get a good night’s rest before a game or practice?
AS: I try to get around seven to nine, but, of course, it becomes harder to achieve when you're piled with schoolwork, so it's very important to find a balance. I think it's vital and once again it comes back with one of the things I picked up being around professional athletes.
PDL: What is your routine in the hours before a game?
AS: I usually get a good meal in and it's a must for me to shower a few hours before the game. I also play some FIFA as it helps me relax.