Note: The following appears in the SC State gameday football program. To purchase a copy of the program while supplies last, send a check for $6 to Clemson Athletic Communications; P.O. Box 31; Clemson, SC 29633 with your return address.
Growing up, it did not take a young Iman Mafi long to discover what sport was important in his family. “My dad is a huge soccer fan…it was soccer 24/7 in my house. When I was little, he would find a way to mix soccer into every conversation. I was born into it and brought up with it. Everything I did was with a ball.”
Mafi’s parents were also from a country where soccer was the No. 1 sport.
“My parents are both from Iran, but they met in Norway. I was born and raised in the southern part of Norway.”
Being raised in a different country from where his parents were raised allowed Mafi to gain confidence and learn different aspects of the cultures around him.
“All of the things I do with my family have to do with Iranian culture. We even speak Farsi. I was raised in an Iranian home, but all of my friends were Norwegian, so I mixed the two cultures. I got the best of the two.”
From a young age, he watched soccer waiting for his chance to take the pitch.
“When I was four, I remember going down to the fields to watch the older guys play. I had to wait until I was five before I could start playing, but I would play on the side by myself since I was too young.”
After he got his chance to play growing up, Mafi fell more and more in love with the sport. He decided to enroll in college in the United States to continue his journey.
“I didn’t know a lot about the college process coming to the U.S., so I started out at Gardner-Webb.”
While Mafi enjoyed his time at Gardner-Webb, he didn’t realize that playing there would lead him to Clemson.
“In my time at Gardner-Webb when we played Clemson, everyone was so hyped up, but I had no idea why. When we got to the stadium, people were taking pictures and I was asking, ‘We are about to play a game here…what are all the pictures about?’
“Soon after we started, I realized how good Clemson was and the level the program was at. I decided I wanted to challenge myself more and that I had bigger ambitions than a small school.”
He worked to get his transfer release.
“Once I visited the school, there was no question on whether I wanted to go to Clemson or not. I went straight home and called my mom and said, ‘I think I found my new school’.”
Mafi arrived on campus and continued to find reasons to be impressed with Clemson.
“The facilities, coaching staff, strength & conditioning and academics…it is challenging in all aspects and I love it. I think this is a great place to develop and get a degree.”
After this season, Mafi hopes to continue pursuing his dream by taking his game to the next level.
“It is a big dream of mine to go professional. Clemson is giving me the opportunity to achieve that goal. My passion is definitely something I bring to the table for the next level of play.”
However, when the senior midfielder plays his final game and sings his final alma mater, there is one thing he will miss the most.
“I am definitely going to miss being with the boys every day and trading that brotherhood and family. Our team does everything together. I am going to miss the feeling of them always being around, but I know our bond will only get stronger with time.”
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