The pre-game meeting for the semi-professional team in Jamaica’s capital wraps up and players disperse. They’re all hyped for the game and a chance to turn around their unusually sluggish start to the season.
Despite the slow start for Harbour View FC, there are glimpses of a return to glory for the four-time Premier League champions. Among the sources of optimism is a teenager in his first season with the storied Jamaica football club.
Michael Martin has left the familiar environs of his home in Cayman Brac to develop his game in Cayman’s closest neighbour to the east, and quickly impressed coaches there.
“So far, Michael has made his way into the unit, has started to learn the nuances of the professional game and has been selected by the coaches…to be a substitute. [He] has come on and done fairly well,” Harbour View FC General Manager, Clyde Jureidini said in an interview with CaymanSportsBuzz.com as we visited the club’s famed “Compound”.
On 27 October against Humble Lion, a decision to bring Martin off the bench paid dividends when the 18 year-old, on debut, darted a 25-yard pass to Dean-Andre Thomas, who headed it home for the equalizer that secured a draw.
“It’s my first time playing with them and they told me ‘Michael, go inside and do what you got to do.’ I said ‘coach don’t worry, I got this’. I went in and that is what happened. I never believed but there we go,” Martin said of the experience.
In the next game, he came on late again and had a chance for a match-winning goal but his shot was a little high.
Martin, who has moved from his familiar role as striker with Cayman Brac FC to attacking midfield, seemed to be enjoying the challenge of playing in the Red Stripe Premier League. “Everything is going okay. It’s a little bit hard for me but I love the work and do the best representing Cayman Brac,” he said.
The teenager noted the differences in style played in the two countries. “In Cayman Brac, it’s only one-two, two touches and shoot. Here it’s [more about] possession and they tackle hard but it’s alright.”
Martin’s opportunity to suit up for the ‘Stars of the East’ arose from discussions Jureidini has been having with Harold Mitchum Sanford and Steve Smith, who coach Cayman Brac FC. Sanford is also a sports instructor at the Sports Department on the sister island.
“One of the discussions we have had recently is how we can help each other and they told me of some talented players that they’d like me to have a look at and hence my visit recently to Cayman Brac,” Jureidini explained. He was on the island for Brac Cup at the end of August.
“The overall discussion that we are looking at is an initial short term relationship with Michael being the first one selected to see how he would fit into a new football environment and a semi-professional environment that prepares young players to go into professional club structures,” he added, noting that Harbour View has done that successfully for several players.
The Harbour View GM said the plan is to take it slowly to prepare Martin for international exposure.
“We have scouts, agents and clubs who are always in contact with us, who are always looking for talent. If he shows himself to be worthy, then they’ll probably have a look at him. If not, then we’ll look at other exposure [opportunities],” he said.
Jureidini said from there other opportunities to give more players from Cayman Brac the same opportunity will be explored.
As for Martin, he’s focus on developing his skills and finding the back of the net before his stint with Harbour View ends and he looks further afield for chances to showcase his talent. “I hope I can do better and score goals. I hope next year I can do trials in the [United] States,” he told CaymanSportsBuzz.com.
His home club, Cayman Brac FC, is rooting him on as they prepare for the 2016-17 CIFA First Division Season without him. Martin said they are always in his mind as well. “I miss them and I’m here doing my work and I’ll soon score for my islands,” he said before suiting up to sit on the bench against Jamalco FC, which the ‘Stars from the East’ won 3-0 as they begin a climb up the table.
Source: Cayman Sports Buzz