Romario Drakes always dreamed of making the Barbados Football Association’s Senior Men’s National Team, and when he did, it brought him one step closer to his ultimate goal of joining the ranks of the Barclay’s Premier League.
The 19-year-old attacking midfielder said this was his second call up to the BFA’s top-flight team, after he didn’t get through on the first occasion.
“I think it was too late. I went to the last two trainings or so before the team travelled and I didn’t really get to express myself,” he said.
He said he remembered playing football from about age three, playing for Cosmos at the youth level from Under-11 straight through to Under-17. He also played for St James at the Under-17 constituency level and his alma mater Alexandra School up to the Under-19 level.
“I had to do a lot of hard work which was good and bad. Sometimes you don’t always want to do all that hard work, but it is good to push yourself. At least you get to see if you’re up to a challenge or not,” he admitted.
Following his youth career, he went on to play for Youth Milan, and was a part of the Premier League last football season for the first time before his team was relegated to Division 1. He has since moved on to Whitehall Titans.
“Playing in the Premier League was a very good experience but I didn’t play a lot because I had school going on. Now playing under Kenroy Skinner, this is probably one of the best teams I’ve been at,” he said, adding that he would stay at Whitehall for a while.
Now that he has finished school, he had hopes of pursuing his academic career at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology to do architecture, but COVID-19 struck and he had to put those plans on hold, however, he has not given up.
Drakes would have been a part of the team that trained ahead of last year’s final two games in the Concacaf Nations League games when the team was promoted to League B.
“I got my call up to the national team last September or October. Training with the Head Coach Russell Latapy was hard at first because I wasn’t on the same level as the rest of the team at first, but after a few weeks it became much easier,” he said.
However, he admitted that he didn’t always think he was good enough to catch anyone’s attention, far less the attention of the head coach of the senior squad.
“Almost everything to do with national training has been a good experience for me. I didn’t think I would have gotten called up to the national team this year because I didn’t think I was out there enough to catch the attention of somebody. It is a very good feeling because it was very unexpected,” he added.
When COVID struck, the huge Barcelona and even bigger Messi fan, said “it was a very terrible feeling” as he was looking forward to playing against another country. But he has not let that daunt him and has been keeping up training as best he could.
“I don’t train every day because I no longer have a football. But I work out with an app on my phone. Sometimes it gets lonely on my own so I ask my friends to train with me and they help me out,” he said.
And Drakes said he would continue to put in the hard work now because he wanted to make it to the Barclay’s Premier League one day.
“Playing on the national team will only help me as I play more games and go overseas and get exposure in the Caribbean or wherever it will work to my advantage. Either way, it is a good advantage,” he said matter-of-factly.