By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com – Cameroon
Name: Serge William Tabekou Ouambe
Born on: October 15, 1996
Height: 1.80cm Weight: 74kg
Current Club: Royal Excel Mouscron
Previous Clubs: APEJES of Mfou, La Gantoise, CS Sedan and OH Louvain, Union Saint-Gilloise
Honours: Belgian second tier League Winner
Caps: Cameroon youth international from 2011-2017
Who is Serge Tabekou?
I am a young Cameroonian footballer who was born and grew up in Yaoundé, precisely at the Ngoa Ékélé neighborhood, currently playing for Belgian outfit Royal Excel Mouscron . I began my career with APEJES in Cameroon and I am trying to make a little name for myself as the Almighty God has destined.
You began your career with APEJES of Mfou, why APEJES?
I will still attribute that to destiny, because I had been to a lot of little football training centres in my neighborhood in Yaoundé, but one morning my brother [Djimoue] who was a player with APEJES, told me that they were opening an academy and that I could come for the trials to see if I could be retained to be part of the pioneer group of kids in the academy. That’s how it all started, I was selected and like they say the rest is history. I progressed through the different ranks and I went on to represent the club in Cameroon’s second and top tiers.
So to me APEJES is more than just a club, it’s more of a family to me and will always occupy a special place in my heart.
I am full of respect for the management of that club and I owe everything I am today to them. I can’t thank them enough.
From APEJES you moved to La Gantoise, it was your first professional contract, how did it happen?
It all happened through an agent who contacted me and told about an opportunity for a move to Belgium, precisely to La Gantoise was on the table.
I think my multiple call ups with the different national youth teams of Cameroon played a huge part.
So before I knew it, we were in Belgium, after a week of trials, the management of the club was convinced and that’s how I got to sign my first professional contract.
I was sent to the reserves’ team and I kept impressing and the coach of the first team called me up into the first team and I was part of the team that took part in the championship playoffs.
How did you feel being part of the first team of a professional Club?
It was very exciting and interesting, though not easy, and everything went very fast for me. I scored a goal in the Championship winning playoffs, which till date remains one of my best memories.
We finished the league as champions that season, for a young lad from the Ngoa Ekele neighborhood in Yaoundé who just a year earlier was still only watching some of these players on television, it was simply fantastic to be a Belgian league winner.
How did you feel immediately after signing your first professional contract?
I must confess that I barely slept that night when I learnt I was going to sign the contract the following day. I kept my calm and told myself that it was the will of God. When I eventually signed I knew the most difficult part of the journey had started.
Tell us about your adaptation and your early days at La Gantoise…
It was not easy, it was intimidating, being in the same dressing room with players I mostly heard of in the news or watched on television. As young as I was, it was difficult to impose myself. Also I had personal difficulties which affected me both on and off the pitch which culminated to me being loaned out.
Tell us your experiences on loan and how that helped you…
With Sedan I have very good memories. I spent six months on loan at Sedan, but those 180 days had a huge impact on me.
I remembered the history of former Cameroon players who were icons to me to have passed through the club like Mbami Modeste, Pius Ndiefi, Marcus Mokaké and Joseph-Desiré Job.
Also I had the chance to work with a great coach in Roger Le Maire who is a great champion with the French national team.
So with a coach of that standing, you see him firstly like a father and you listen to all what he says like words from the Bible.
His words made us want to give 200% and that helped me to improve in every aspect of my game and as a person.
I think that time at Sedan has had a huge impact on my career.
Yeah after Sedan I was loaned out again to Louvain in the Belgian second tier. This was a notch up, given that Sedan was in the third tier in France. The goal here was for me to continue in my progress.
After a Dream start to your professional career at La Gantoise, things did not actually go as planned…
Yes like I said earlier , I had a dream start, scoring on my debut and winning the Belgian league title but I had a problem of concentration and life style. So I had to ask myself the right questions and make some telling choices which I think helped me a lot to improve.
At Louvain, you were still not hitting the heights of your promising debut…
Yes I was eventually liberated by La Gantoise but my performances with Louvain were enough to convince Union Saint Gilloise.
They presented me a good project and made a good offer for me which I accepted and took the challenge with the Bruxelles based club.
You spoke very highly of Roger Le Maire, could you say that he is the coach who has had the greatest influence on your career?
Honestly, all the coaches I have worked with have impacted me in one way or another.
But there are two who stand out, not just as coaches but from the human perspective. Their influence on my career went beyond the sporting aspect. They are Oumarou Sokba in Cameroon, who saw me grow up at APEJES and Roger Le Maire whom I had the privilege to work with at Sedan. They influenced me on and off the pitch.
Do you still keep an eye on the Cameroon league?
Yes of course. It’s the championship of my country, and also I played in it. It was thanks to that league that I had an opportunity to play abroad.
I don’t miss the opportunity to watch a game of APEJES in particular whenever I am back home on holidays.
In my last visit to Cameroon, I was in Limbe to watch them against Avion of Nkam. So either from a distance or closer, I keep a close eye and ear on the domestic championship in Cameroon and especially the club of my heart, APEJES.
Do you imagine yourself finishing your career with APEJES?
Well, I can’t really tell for now, but at the end it all boils down to the will of God. If he designs that I finish my career in Cameroon, then I will only be fulfilling the plans of my creator. Besides, I would not be the first to do so.
We just pray that the organization of the championship improves so that many more players abroad will start having a strong desire to do so.
For now I am concentrating on my career in Europe and I think I still have a lot to prove here. I am still young, still progressing and hoping to get to the very top of the game in Europe.
Talking about playing the game to the very top in Europe, what are your personal career ambitions?
My ambitions are to have a great career without any regrets at the end. I want to take pleasure and enjoy myself wherever I am, enjoy my football and above all if I get the opportunity defend the colours of my country with dignity and pride.
I already did so at the youth categories so if I get the opportunity at senior level it will be a huge honour for me.
Unfortunately despite the great memories I had with the youth teams of Cameroon I never had a chance to play in a major tournament.
How have you been coping with Coronavirus pandemic?
It’s been very difficult especially psychologically, with all he deaths both here in Belgium and in Cameroon. I have been really worried. I always reminded my dear ones to respect the preventive measures and I was doing just that.
Thank God now football has returned, but we remain very vigilant and careful and respect all the rules to prevent the spread of the virus. It’s been a tough and challenging time for everyone.
Do you think all these will affect your performances next season?
I have been working very hard personally and hope to better by statistics next season despite the Coronavirus break.
I am hoping to impress at my new club Royal Excel Mouscron.
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