Mending fences with her father as she follows in his footsteps
Having a parent in the limelight usually comes with pressure on the child to become as successful or to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Things don’t become any easier when the parent and child share the same passion. They are often compared and pitted against one another. Former South African Under-23 international, Junaid Hartley, used to mesmerise opponents with his skills but his journey was cut short when he fell into the trap of recreational drugs. The drugs didn’t just cost him his career, but also put in dire jeopardy his relationship with his eldest daughter, Faa-Iqah Hartley. This is her story …
Faa-Iqah Hartley has limited memory of her father’s heroics as a player. Junaid turned professional at age 16 and went on to play in Portugal for Vitória de Setúbal and RC Lens in France. Faa-Iqah says she recalls little of the time Junaid was a household name but she remembers how she felt when people asked her how her father was doing. “I was really small [young], I don’t remember much,” Faa-Iqah says. “But I think he did well for himself in terms of his football until everything went downhill. I think I have only watched one of his live games in my life. That was when we took a trip to Malaysia. I was nine at the time and I don’t remember that much.” Faa-Iqah, now a University of Johannesburg central midfielder, says during her father’s drug abuse period their relationship suffered immeasurably. “I was ashamed of it, even though I didn’t have a good relationship with him at the time because I hardly saw him. When people used to ask me how he was or if he was still on the stuff, I didn’t know what to say because at the same time he remained my dad and I didn’t want to make him look bad in front of everyone. I would tell them I don’t know,” she says. The 19-year-old said that seeing Junaid less helped her; she didn’t get to see how he was destroying himself. Junaid’s family worked hard
“I DIDN’T WANT TO MAKE HIM LOOK BAD IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.” “I SPOKE TO MY MOTHER A LOT ABOUT IT AND THEN THERE WAS A TIME SHE STOPPED ME FROM SEEING HIM.”
in having the two reunited so that they can build a relationship. “I spoke to my mother a lot about it and then there was a time she stopped me from seeing him. I think that helped a lot. I kind of forgot about him but my grandfather would come and tell me that I need to speak to him [her father]. I think not seeing him helped me a lot because I didn’t have to witness what was going on,” she adds.
In August 2016 KICK OFF, Junaid
told KICK OFF that he was living on handouts, after falling off the radar. His addiction affected his daughter so bad that they couldn’t have proper father-daughter conversations. Faa-Iqah recalls that in some of their talks her father would veer off the topic they were discussing and speak about things that were totally irrelevant. “Sometimes it was so difficult to speak to him without him speaking of stupid stuff,” she says. “He was obsessed with the moon, that’s all that he ever spoke about. He believed that he moved the moon and the sun. He was just hallucinating so badly.” A good father-daughter bond is important, especially in how the girl child relates to others in her future relationships. In spite of everything, Faa-Iqah is in a process of mending her relationship with her father. She says their Father’s Day interaction has helped improve how they connect. “It [the relationship] has changed so much. I chat to him almost everyday on WhatsApp. This year was the very first time I wished him a happy Father’s Day. This year was also the first time I got a proper hug from him. My aunt told me that he actually cried on Father’s Day. Now, he brings me to soccer when my mom can’t – something that had never happened before, even when he was okay,” she says.
Finally having communication
barriers being reduced between the two, their relationship is slowly recovering. However, it will take a lot of work to rebuild what was lost over the years they have been apart. Faa-Iqah stresses that the more she meets her father one-on-one, the stronger their relationship will be. “It’s a good feeling to actually have my father play his role in my life because my mother has been playing both parts. There are times that he asks if I can go to my aunt’s to visit him, like during the holidays, and we’d spend the week together and I would go with him to training.” Although things seem to be going so well, so much so that her father sometimes gives her tips and feedback on some of her games, she feels that they shouldn’t rush things. As a rising footballer, Faa-Iqah can use her father’s journey to avoid the pitfalls that many athletes fall into. She says that they don’t speak about how her father got into the world of drugs or how it impacted his career. “I learnt that arrogance will take you nowhere,” Faa-Iqah says. “No matter how good you are, you should never take it to your head. You have to remain humble. The minute it goes to your head and you start chasing money, that’s when everything goes downhill.” Although she doesn’t remember much of her father’s playing days, she says she’s been told she does play like him. She, however, doesn’t believe she is as skilled.
Many would have thought that
Junaid introduced his daughter to the game but she actually used to accompany her mother, Nadia Moosa, to her games. They played together for Palmeros FC, an amateur club in Florida, Johannesburg. While Moosa played at right back, they would have FaaIqah on the left. When Moosa hung her boots up, she encouraged FaaIqah to continue with the sport. “My mother used to take me to indoor soccer. I played for a year or so until I realised that the field was too small. That’s how I started playing 11-a-side. When I started making it into district teams I felt that maybe I am good enough to go somewhere. That’s where it all started for me. I think my mom was better than me. She actually pushed me to continue,” she recalls. Faa-Iqah feels that she is under a bit of pressure to do well because her father was considered one of the best of his generation. She reckons there would have been more pressure on her had she been a boy. She believes playing for UJ has opened doors for her to blossom. She is hopeful that she will start her international career soon with the national women’s Under-20s. Faa-Iqah was part of a week-long selection camp under coach Maude Khumalo ahead of the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers, which kicked off in August. She understands that it won’t be easy breaking into the team because of the stiff competition in the camp. “I didn’t play the position I am used to. They played me on the wing and I am used to being in central midfield, but I think I did well. I started as a defender in my early days but then they told me I was being wasted there,” Faa-Iqah says.
(Below) Faa-Iqah training with her UJ Ladies team in Johannesburg, where she plays as a midfielder.
(Above) Faa-Iqah’s mother, Nadia Moosa, guided her through her early steps both on and off the field.