Rising Ballers FC: Nine Grads Who Went Pro

Rising Ballers FC have seen many players progress through the club’s system, with some graduates eventually landing professional contracts.

Nine players were given the chance to pursue their footballing dreams. They have since signed for clubs in different leagues, and some moved abroad.

Iliman Ndiaye

Iliman Ndiaye signed for Sheffield United’s U23 squad in 2019. He was soon sent out on loan to Hyde United during the 2019/20 season, where he made nine appearances and scored one goal.

The attacking midfielder played for Boreham Wood and Rising Ballers before he joined Sheffield United. He is signed to the Blades until 2022.

Tashae Andall-Gibbons

Midfielder Tashae Andall-Gibbons signed for Sheffield United’s U23 squad last September, putting pen to paper on a one-year contract. He reunited with former Rising Ballers teammate Iliman Ndiaye in South Yorkshire.

Andall-Gibbons spent time with Chelsea’s academy and had a trial for Charlton Athletic’s development side. He then signed for Rising Ballers before he joined the Blades.

Tayshan Hayden-Smith

Attacking midfielder Tayshan Hayden-Smith currently plays for Walton Casuals, having spent a large chunk of his young career plying his trade in non-league football.

Following the buzz around his name on social media from his story that was published via Copa90, Tayshan signed a pro contract in Cyprus' 2nd tier before returning home to be closer to his family.

He owns the Acklum Nature Project, which is designed to help the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The initiative is to use gardening to promote togetherness within communities, and it is active in areas such as Ladbroke Grove and North Kensington.

Hayden-Smith continues to play an active role in his project. He is hoping to revive it into a charity to further strengthen positive effects across London.

Melvin Minter

Melvin Minter joined League Two newcomers Harrogate Town in September 2020 on a short-term deal. He has since signed a contract until the end of the 2020/21 season.

London-born Minter started his career with Brentford and later played for several non-league teams. His breakthrough came after he joined Hanwell Town in the Isthmian League, where he became the starting goalkeeper and was considered one of the best players in the league.

Following a brief spell at Harrow Borough, he signed for Kings Langley. He established himself as a fan favourite due to his impressive performances, and this convinced Harrogate Town to sign him this year. This is his first professional contract.

Mergim Qarri

Swiss-born Mergim Qarri signed his first professional contract with Swedish club Ytterhogdals IK in July 2019. He has since returned to his homeland to play for a few clubs in Kosovo’s lower divisions.

Junior Paiva

QPR full-back Junior Paiva is known for his athleticism and pace, two attributes that have impressed his coaches. He plays for the club’s U18 team.

Zaid Al-Hussaini

Zaid Al-Hussaini is a pacy winger who moulds his game around his footballing idols Riyad Mahrez and Robinho. He showed his talent as a member of Rising Ballers and showed several scouts signs of potential. He ultimately signed for Crawley Town in August 2020.

Al-Hussaini, a former Derby County academy member, has set his sights on scoring and assisting as much as he can for Crawley.

Darius Johnson

Darius Johnson left England for his chance to play. The 20-year-old forward plays professional football for FC Volendam, a team in the second tier of Dutch football.

Johnson was born and raised in London. He trialled for several teams in different leagues, but he failed to land a contract. He subsequently signed for The Harrow Club and scored in a friendly game against Rising Ballers, who he later joined.

Johnson had a busy 2019; he played non-league football and trialled at Chelsea, but a transfer embargo prevented him from signing for the Blues. He moved to the Netherlands to try out for FC Voldendam, securing his first deal soon after.

Percy “P.K.” Kiangebeni

P.K. signed a professional contract for Colchester United in 2018. He played for Rising Ballers as a defender, and his time there earned him a place at St. Albans.

A central midfielder, he became an important player for the Saints in two seasons playing for the team. He signed for Colchester United in 2018 and is yet to make an appearance for the Us. He has gained playing time due to loan spells at Concord Rangers, Hertford Town and Hendon.

Written by James Sneddon

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