AS BAJAN AS FLYING FISH – Passion for football
My name is Romario Bryan and I’m about to start a two-year course at Oxford United Football & Education Academy, studying and playing football.
I grew up and live in Chancery Lane, Christ Church. Me and my friends did everything together. Whole families lime together in Chancery Lane. It’s wide open and free but I wouldn’t want to call it “countryside”. It’s too close to the airport.
Me and my whole family try to book a seat on the right side of the plane whenever we’re coming back to Barbados. To spot our house.
My mum and dad and my younger sister, Sasha Bryan, all live together. My mum’s in England right now, sorting out things with the academy.
I’m the first child and the boy but I’m only a little spoiled. Just a little. Me and Sasha are spoiled the same amount.
I went to Queen’s College. I chose it for the football and because I always wanted to go there.
I loved football from the time I was nine, when I joined [local football school] Pro Shottas. Coach Eric Alleyne and [founder] Greg Castagne taught me discipline. I grew to be captain of the U-17 and U-19 teams.
I’ve played competitively since age nine and have been on Pro Shottas U-9, U-11, U-12, U-13, -15, -17 and U-19. We went to the [prestigious invitational] Cleveland Continental Cup [tournament] when I was 12. It’s called the AC Milan Continental Cup now. You have to be invited to play. I went twice, once with the U-13 team and in 2010 as the U-17 captain. We got beat on penalties in the semi-final.
To captain a team, you have to be a good leader. At Pro Shottas, they teach us to be a leader, not a follower. I had to lead by example, to be a role model for the other players. You have to be on point every minute, try to motivate the players without being abusive.
Mr Castagne had told me to start looking at clubs in the UK, since I have a UK passport. I came across Oxford United and emailed them. They told me they were interested in having me as a national player.
I went on trials at Oxford and did well. They called me back three days after and told me I didn’t have to go to the second trial. I was already in.
At Oxford United Academy, you do schoolwork in the morning and then, in the evening, you do football training. On Wednesdays, you have matches in a league against other academies in England.
I don’t think there are any other Barbadians at the academy.
I’m going to work hard and try to make it to the first team of Oxford United. It’s a big move. But I want to be a professional footballer.
A Bajan is a person who can speak Bajan dialect and take part in the culture freely. You have to be born in Barbados to be Bajan.
Barbados means a lot to me. I’m going to be the only Barbadian at Oxford. So I have to show what professional persons we have in Barbados.
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