"The future is very bright for Australia" - Hosine Bility
From training at one of Scandinavia's most established clubs to representing Australia at a youth level at just 21, Hosine Bility has an exciting future ahead.
The 21-year-old recently represented Australia at the U23 AFC Asian Cup. He also featured in the UEFA Youth League for Danish giants FC Midtjylland.
FPF caught up with the Guinea-born defender to talk about his upbringing in South Australia, life in Europe, and wearing the green and gold.
"First and foremost, my mum is the biggest motivation for me," Bility told Front Page Football recently.
"From how she came to Australia to settle for a new life, she is my biggest motivation, and that's how I started to believe in myself and to reach dreams of playing football.
"In terms of how my passion for football grew, I started training with my brother and Teeboy Kamara.
"I used to hate Teeboy because of the way he pushed me around, but that experience motivated me to take football seriously.
"I trained with Al Hassan Toure and his brothers as well. We all grew up and played together. After school, I would train with the boys, watch the Champions League, and a coach named Emanuel Pais helped me a lot."
Having moved from Guinea to Australia at the age of six, Bility attended Underdale High School in the western suburbs of Adelaide. The school is known for offering football alongside standard curriculum subjects such as mathematics and English.
The school helps their football students by focusing on the on and off-field aspects of the sport, from maintaining a healthy diet to transitioning from a professional sporting environment to finding a career after sport.
There have been a few footballers who have been developed at the school. The list includes Al Hassan Toure, Mohammad Toure, and Asad Kusumovic, along with others who have obtained employment within sporting industries, such as officials, coaches, and sports scientists.
"Underdale High School really helped me out," Bility said.
"My love for football grew when I was at Underdale. The school made football a subject, which everyone loved, and they taught two types of football - football on grass and life outside of football, which was very helpful.
"Underdale was a very serious and encouraging environment. They focused on not only helping school kids have a life in football but also develop their skills as a human.
"From Year Eight to Year Twelve, you had to take education seriously. Of course, the main idea was to have fun but also be reasonable.
"They mentioned stories about sports people who unfortunately didn't make it in their careers. So it was important to take every subject seriously, so if your football career didn't happen, you are prepared to have a second life."
Bility joined NPL SA side Croydon Kings to further develop his enthusiasm to play football at a high level. He explained that the club and its players significantly helped him on and off the pitch.
"Croydon helped me massively," Bility said.
"From under 13s to the seniors, the club was very helpful, and it felt like a home for me.
"The experienced boys like Łukasz Klimek and Rocky Visconte were exceptional to me. The belief they had in me helped with my confidence, whether that would be in training sessions or games.
"The senior team and management trusted me a lot, and I got more confident in my game. They were always willing to help me, and I am very grateful."
At just 15 years of age, Bility featured for Croydon's NPL senior team, taking on players with vast amounts of experience. In some cases, Bility played against strikers with more playing experience than his age.
For Bility, the transition from junior-aged football to senior football was a nervous step up.
"The intensity from U18s to even Reserve grade was nerve-wracking for me," Bility said.
"The football in first grade was very quick, but my physique helped me a lot to take on strikers.
"There was a lot of help and belief from the older lads such as Łukasz and Rocky. They always offered advice to me on how to improve my game.
"It was nerve-wracking at first, but later on, the more games I played, the more confident I got."
After impressing at Croydon, Bility was offered an opportunity to trial in Denmark for Superliga side FC Midtjylland.
"The rumours of joining Midtjylland started in 2017, as I was having a good run (of form)," Bility said.
"I was enjoying my football, and then I got a trial to go to Denmark. At the time, I didn't know anything about Denmark or Midtjylland, only Awer Mabil.
"I was on trial for two weeks and played in a tournament (the All Stars Cup). My confidence was high, and I did really well in that tournament and got a Man of the Match award."
In 2019, Bility officially signed for Midtjylland's U19s team.
Moving to the other side of the world in a completely different climate, without any family members, was a tough mental challenge for Bility but the club always offered him personal assistance.
"I'm grateful Midtjylland wanted me, and they made me feel very welcome at the club," Bility added.
"I found it very challenging at first because the lifestyle is different.
"The weather was different, the timezone as well; it was mentally tough.
"But the club tried their best to make me feel good. Antonis Martis, an Aussie [who was] at Midtjylland, really helped me. We stayed together, went out together, and he offered me advice on how to live in Denmark. He was like a big brother to me."
Denmark was the first European country Bility had visited, and he was surprised about how the Danes perceived football.
"They're very passionate about football in Denmark," Bility said.
"The Danish people have this winning mentality, especially at Midtjylland; they always want to win.
"I came from the NPL, and when we lost a game, it was a little bit chill. But in Denmark, even in training sessions, everyone got angry when losing.
"This winning mentality is in their DNA, the Danish people always want to win at all costs, and this was one of the biggest differences compared to Australia."
Bility played for FC Midtylland's U19s team and found the level of football between Australia and Denmark to be significantly different.
"The intensity of youth matches is very different compared to Australia," Bility said.
"The speed of the game, the technical side as well, is different. I've never played in the A-League but compared to the NPL, Danish football is more tactical, faster, and more aggressive."
Bility was also introduced to the sheer amount of training and specific routines that were in place in Denmark, even at a youth level.
"At Midtjylland, there were strict diets created by nutritionists, [which] was constantly checked. I was new to all of this," Bility added.
"Sometimes, we would train twice a day. For example, a light session on the field and then a hard gym session in one day, so I found this different because there isn't really any gym work back in Australia.
"It was training four days a week and sometimes twice in one day. Overall there was [much] more training than I had experienced in Australia."
Earlier this year, Bility moved on loan to Iceland to sign for Fram Reykjavik, making four league appearances in the Icelandic top tier.
It was Bility's first time playing senior professional football in Europe.
"Similarly to Danish football, Icelandic football is very aggressive," Bility said.
"I enjoyed my time in Iceland, but unfortunately, I didn't get to play much as I was away with the national team, and I signed with Fram on a short loan deal.
"The football wasn't as physical as Denmark, but the level wasn't bad at all.
"Overall, it was a really good experience in a professional first-team environment. I enjoyed my time in Iceland even though it was pretty short."
A few weeks ago, Bility moved west of the continent to sign for Liga 2 Portugal side CD Mafra.
Bility says that the club have welcomed him with open arms, and he's eager to get minutes for the Portuguese side.
"It has been very good so far, and I am very happy here," Bility said.
"The weather is fantastic, and I like the way the Portuguese play, such as playing out from the back, which is the style I like.
"One of my best coaches back in Australia was Emanuel Pais. He is of Portuguese descent, so some of the drills and training activities remind me of my time with him.
"I've played some pre-season games, and I love the style of football. The director of the club has been very welcoming, and I am enjoying my time here already."
Bility has also been involved with the Australia youth setup, playing three matches for the Green and Gold in the U23 Asian Cup held in Uzbekistan back in June.
It was a surreal few weeks for Bility as he gained valuable international experience on and off the pitch.
The Australia U23 international also stated that the country's football fans should be very excited about the new crop of talent that is emerging.
"It was a very good experience," Bility said.
"To be called up was an exceptional feeling, and it was new to me. I've never been in that environment before, and it was all very professional.
"The Asian Cup was something new to me, and it was a very nice experience and a great challenge.
"I was nervous at first because I hadn't played that many games before the opening match against Kuwait. But that belief from Trevor Morgan and the playing group gave me confidence in my game.
"It was full of good vibes in camp. I never thought I would play in a tournament like the Asian Cup, and I learned a lot about international football.
"The camp, the training sessions, and the organisation was all very professional and much different to club football.
"All the lads are hard-working, and the next generation is coming. I believe in the boys.
"I've seen them in training sessions and games; I mean, look at Alou (Kuol) scoring that crazy scorpion goal. The future is very bright for Australia."
If you enjoyed this article, click here to read our recent interview with another South Australian talent, Adelaide City midfielder Jai King.