Shamar “Buju” Edwards was earmarked to follow in his cousins Fidel Edwards and Pedro Collins’ footsteps, but after a suggestion he ditched the family tradition of playing cricket and became a footballer instead.
“My first love was always for cricket, but I used to play football for fun. My first coach outside of school was Paul "Soup" Lovell and he encouraged me to go to the next level. I also thought cricket was a bit boring,” he said laughing.
He played as a fielder and was always being pushed to be a cricketer Edwards recalled.
“I don’t think I was that good either to make it to the next level in cricket,” he said.
And so he turned to football and began his career at Cosmos at the youth level, before moving onto his village club Sunrise FC, where he was part of the team that came third in the Division 2 Knockout Cup and barely missed promotion to Division 1 by a mere point.
The forward said he was then encouraged to give the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme a try, before returning to Sunrise. But after that did not work out, the “country boy” decided it was better to stick with a “country side” and joined the ranks at Porey Spring, before settling at Scotty’s Car Rentals St Andrew Lions.
“The Lions enjoyed a decent run last season and during the inaugural Capelli SuperCup. The guys showed a lot of fight. That is what I like about the Lions; they show a lot of fight,” he said.
Buju added that it may have been because of the addition of the Brazilians in their ranks, but he stressed that credit should really go out to the supporters.
Over the years, Buju, who will celebrate his 29th birthday in August, said his run with football has been excellent and he would not complain.
“I broke my left ankle and that slowed down my progress. Other than that, it has been pretty good. I was surprised to get call up to the national side, and was on the bench for the last Concacaf Nations League game when the team was promoted,” he said.
But it was a dream come true for the Arsenal supporter when he travelled with the Barbados Football Association’s top-flight team to San Diego, in January, to play against Canada in two FIFA Friendlies.
“That was a dream come true, to rub shoulders with actual pros. The experience was really good,” he said in awe.
And he believed working with Head Coach Russell Latapy would only make the senior squad better, while he gained a personal advantage.
“Russell is a pretty good coach. What I like about him, even before I was in the setup, is that the household names we’ve been hearing for years that were never in the national team, like me or Romario Drakes, he came and scout for some talent and called us up. It wasn’t the same old names all the time, no disrespect to the other guys,” he said.
“I like the quality of the game now. Before we just had some rugged center backs, but it is nice to see defenders passing the ball long. The overall game for me is improving. Plus we have better facilities and stuff so hopefully, that will help the game,” he added.
And although he believes he is not as skillful as some of his teammates, Buju said he had his place in the team and made a solid contribution.
“My style of play is slightly different from the others. I am more like a holdup player because of my stature and size. I am not as skillful as the other guys, but I am like a link-up player who would hold up the ball and get players into position to get the ball into the box. The coach always reminds me of that,” he said proudly, adding that Latapy always told him to “trust the process”.
As for his career, the Ousmane Dembélé and Thierry Henry fan said when he was no longer playing football, he may turn to refereeing as he was a qualified referee.
“I think my better days are probably near than further. I am one of the older guys in the team as in age, so I probably have until next year where that goes. I haven’t played football for a while now and I am not experienced in caps but in age.
“After football, I’ll probably go into some coaching or refereeing. I was encouraged by Azard Weekes to take up refereeing, but I think you have to give up football and I am not ready to give up playing as yet. But it’s one of the avenues of the game I will try to give back,” he said.