Rashad Smith wants to be the first local player to put Barbados on the map in a big way when it comes to football.
And while he was well on his way to doing that by joining the ranks of the Australian based Victor Harbour Football Club, the global COVID-19 pandemic has slowed him down, but only momentarily.
“I will take the opportunity to go overseas and represent my country. It isn’t a lot of Bajans born and bred in Barbados playing in the English or Spanish League. I would like to be the first to make it and put Barbados on the map, so coaches and scouts will put Barbados on their radar going forward,” he declared.
Smith, who plays as a left back for the Barbados Football Association’s Senior Men’s National Team said playing football for him was a passion.
“I started playing football from five years old. My next door neighbor was five years older than me and he always used to go on the pasture and train with the older fellas. Going with him all the time made me start playing football and I never stopped,” he said.
Smith played at the youth level while at West Terrace Primary and then for St James Secondary where he was the starting right-back for the Under-19 team.
“During my time at St James playing Under-19 in first form, I captained the team until I left. In first form, I came second when St Leonard’s beat us 4-2 on Combermere pasture. Usually, my more outstanding players used to get sent home or wasn’t interested or focused on football like how I was at the time. During that time I would just encourage the players to come to training, but the only thing I ever won at St Jams Secondary was in my first year playing for Under-19,” he said.
While still at secondary school, he also played for Gall Hill during their time in the Premier League while Barry Taylor was the coach.
“There was mutual respect between us. He used to pick me up, take me to train and carry me back home. Soon after I got called up for the Under-17 national team when we won the Banks Cup with Barbados Soccer Academy,” he said.
Smith, who plays every position on his club team the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme, said while training on the Under-17 national team, his focus always was on being called up to the senior men’s team, which happened in 2017.
“When I am playing football with the senior team, some days I go through the motions, but most days I enjoy training. I will respect the coaches 100 per cent on the decisions if I make the team or not. I always think about the team before I think about myself,” he noted.
And with ten national caps under his boots, Smith said it was only now playing under Head Coach Russell Latapy that he was given more opportunities to show his talent.
“Before I was always an unknown player and I used to mop the bench or if I was on the field I will always stay back. Nobody saw my ability or anything,” he said nonchalantly.
Smith, who celebrates his 24th birthday on July 31, said he was not daunted and luck had favoured him and he was called to play with the Australian side.
“I was ready to go to Australia but the COVID pandemic cancelled that. If not I’d probably be overseas playing professionally. I contacted the coach and the agent, so I’m just waiting until it all clears up and we’ll see how it goes,” he said hopefully.
But for now, Smith was contented to play with his home side and could not wait to get back on the field.