Midfielder Niall Reid-Stephen wants to go all the way to the Barclay’s Premier League, and is confident he will, especially with the support of his biggest fan and mom Lorna Reid.
The Barcelona fan got hooked on football after watching football legend Lionel Messi dribble balls. So mesmerized was Reid-Stephen that he tried out what he saw Messi doing, which led him to Pro Shottas Soccer School and then onto the University of the West Indies Blackbirds, with overseas stints in Georgia, Chicago and Washington D.C.
And while a member of the Under-17 national team, he got his call up to the Barbados Football Association’s elite squad at age 16. As one of the youngest members of the squad, he said he was more than excited to be chosen to play among the islands finest.
“It was a good experience to play with the older guys. After I got called up it was fine, but then I had to stop for a little bit because I hurt my knee. I wasn’t out for long before I went back,” he said.
The 18-year-old is no newbie to hard work and leadership, however, as he was propelled into seniority with the exit of some of UWI’s long-standing players at the beginning of the football season.
“For me as a player, I try my best to lead them and do what I have to do to keep them together,” he said matter-of-factly.
Reid-Stephen has two national caps under his boots with the senior men and hoped to make it a lot with direction from Head Coach Russell Latapy.
“Playing for the senior team at a young age I had to adapt to them, but so far I’ve been comfortable and it has been good. I’ve learnt a lot from Coach Latapy. He taught me things I never really heard a lot of coaches saying and it is a different experience with him,” he said.
And while he is still working on his debut goal, he anticipated that would come about with a lot of hard work, which he was more than prepared to put in.
So prepared was he that he was set, ready and excited to resume when the call came.
Reid-Stephen said he enjoyed playing football locally, but believed footballers across the board locally needed to be exposed to more training.
“We train sometimes twice a week, but when I was overseas I trained twice a day, every day and the facilities were more advanced. Training overseas is more intense and completely different,” he said.
His mom, who sat in on the interview, said she was supporting her son to go to the highest level and recognize his dream of making the Barclay’s Premier League.
“He believes in his football. He balances football and school work very easily,” she said.
Lorna said people tended to look more towards getting an athletic scholarship, but she was backing her baby to get a football scholarship and advance to earn an education while doing what he loved.
“It is amazing that he can call all those German names and I myself can’t pronounce it. He follows these people and I guess that is his way and it is truly amazing,” she said.