The CFL Draft is set to hit the airwaves live on May 12th, at 8PM EST and will no doubt provide some young athletes with platforms to make their respective marks on the Canadian Football League. Having gone through it last season, and now ready to return in 2015, we caught up with Lirim Hajrullahu of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who saw his rookie status rapidly evolve to starter in 2014!
CFLPA: Hey Lirim, thanks for the chance to ask you a few questions! Prior to arriving to your first day of camp last season, what did you expect a professional football environment to be like? Did your perceptions change once you were in the fold?
Lirim Hajrullahu: “Prior to my first day of camp, I did not have a certain perception of how the professional football environment was going to be, but I knew the competition level was going to be like no other.
My perception did not alter all that much but as the season progressed; I quickly realized how professional and how down to earth these athletes were. This was not the case just on the Blue Bombers but from across the whole league. This was something I did not put much thought into before the first day of camp but I am glad our league is this way.”
CFLPA: Transitioning from college to professional football, what main differences do you see in the game?
Lirim: “The difference is definitely the speed of the athletes and how they prepare not only for games but for practice, workouts, and meetings as well.”
PA: Are there any moments that stick out from your rookie season last year, good or bad?
Lirim: “The good thing that sticks out for me is the professional demeanor the other athletes bring to work each day. It motivated me to work that much harder to help our team succeed.
The bad… well losing, no one likes losing!”
PA: What did you learn in your rookie year that will help you as you continue to develop as a professional football player?
Lirim: “There are many things that I learned in my rookie year but one thing that sticks out is becoming a “sponge” when it comes to advice from coaches or other players.”
PA: With CFL Draft day coming up, is there anything that you could tell yourself as you prepared to enter the CFL, now that you have a better handle on the grind?
Lirim: “Quality not quantity and use all the resources that are available around you (massage therapists, physiotherapists, trainers…)”
PA: “What is your 2015 goal entering your second year in the CFL?”
Lirim: “Make it to the playoffs, and then go undefeated in the playoffs! Personally, be a player that my teammates and coaches can depend on game-after-game.”
We want to thank Lirim once again for breaking away from his training to answer a few questions about his rookie season. The best of luck to Lirim as he prepares to come out as strong in 2015 as he did in his outstanding first season in the CFL!