Rushesha's debut delight
Tivonge Rushesha has revealed his delight after making his debut for Swansea City Under-23s in last night’s 2-2 draw with Hull City.
The 16-year-old full-back played the full 90 minutes at East Riding County FA as the young Swans booked their place in the Premier League Cup knockout stages.
Zimbabwean-born Rushesha, who has featured 14 times for the under-18s in Premier League South this season after being awarded a two-year scholarship last summer, produced an assured performance down the right side – getting forward at every opportunity and delivering some dangerous crosses into the box.
The Wales under-17 international was delighted to be given the opportunity to impress and was grateful for the support of his team-mates throughout the game.
“It means a lot to me. It’s good that all the hard work I’ve put into this season has been recognised,” he said.
“I found out on Wednesday that I was going to be starting. I was really excited to get home and tell my parents but, at the same time, I just tried to stay calm and treat it like any other game.
“It was nice that the coaches trusted me to come into the squad and play the full game and my team-mates were always talking to me and helping me throughout.
“Even before, they were telling me to stay calm and that I’d proven myself enough to be playing, so there was no pressure. They made me feel at home.”
Rushesha’s performance caught the eye of under-23s coach Gary Richards, who praised the youngster’s impact.
“We’re pleased for Tivonge to make his debut at this level,” he said. “It was good to give him an opportunity.
“He’s performed consistently well for the under-18s this season and, to be fair, he did very well and looked comfortable whenever he had the ball.”
The defender, who joined the Swans at under-12 level, joined the likes of Joe Rodon and Liam Cullen in making his debut for the development side at the age of 16.
He is hoping to follow the well-trodden path by the pair, who have since gone on to appear for the first team, but understands the importance of grasping any opportunity that falls his way in order to do so.
“You can’t really go into these games feeling timid or nervous because you never know when your next chance is going to be,” he continued. “You just have to do as well as you can in the moment.
“As a young player, you’re always looking to push on to the next level and test yourself, so it’s very important that I make the most of these opportunities.
“Having had this first taste, I now want even more. I need to keep working as hard as possible to try and get another chance.
“It would mean everything if I could follow in the footsteps of Joe and Liam. Every young player’s goal is to get to the top level.
“Establishing myself with the under-23s is a step I’d have to take along the way and is currently one of my main goals so, hopefully, I can achieve that.”
Rushesha will hope to feature again on Tuesday when the under-23s face Wolves in their final group game of this season's Premier League Cup.