BERRY’S Jesse Jackson is on the verge realising his dream of playing professional football overseas, when he heads to the United Kingdom later this month.
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The 19-year-old, who most recently played for Shoalhaven Heads/Berry FC, will head to Liverpool, England, where he will undergo more high intensive training.
This is just the latest step in the journey for Jackson, who was born and started his career in New Zealand.
“I started playing at Oratia United mini-midgets at age four in New Zealand, which led me to playing both school representative football and local team based football for the majority of my career,” Jackson said.
“In year eight, I was offered a position in the national scouting recruiter international sports scholarship program which allows students from Australia and New Zealand to take up sports scholarships following the HSC.
“Following this, I trialled in year 12 with an Australian sports development group called FC11, who recently offered me a position in the Australian group going to Spain to train at the FC Malaga City academy.
“This is where I received the personal invite from Gareth Williams, a former player for Leicester City, Watford and the Scottish national team, and Ang Dallas, a former player at Malvern City FC – who are now training, coaching and scouting promising players in a newly formulated touring academy.”
Jackson, who has also played for both Bomaderry FC and Illaroo FC, kicked plenty of goals in Spain on the field – impressing the coaches with his skills and work ethic.
“Upon arrival in Malaga with the FC11 Australian group, we started training and being assessed immediately,” Jackson said.
“Everyday was training, assessment, recovery and games.
“Five trainers and coaches ran all our sessions and gave feedback daily on field positioning and fitness among other things.
“You go over to Spain thinking you know what it takes to play professionally but after a month of that intensity training, you realise you knew nothing and it will take everything you have physically and mentally to do it.
“It's not glamorous – it’s a hard slog and really boring food, involving non-stop protein and carbohydrates to build endurance and strength.
“At the end of the month, we had individual review chats with the FC Malaga City academy coaches, at which point, I was told I had what it takes to play professionally in an English Premier League team.
“I was then given the invite by Gareth Williams to head to Liverpool and Glasgow to train with them while my profile is submitted to the selection people at the various European teams prior to the new 2018 season – we will also visit many other team trials throughout Europe.”
But to ensure Jackson can make full advantage of this opportunity and board his flight to England in January 28, he needs to raise $12,500 to cover the costs and expenditures – an aspect he hopes the Shoalhaven community can assist him with.
“For me personally, this is obviously the end result of a life long dream and result of thousands of hours of hard work both on the field and off to finance it,” he said.
“The broader importance is the influence a local player reaching the English Premier League can have.
“You can give back to your local communities by sharing with those younger players coming up through the small local regional teams, that this is the way to get there and make a career of what you love.
“You can encourage young people to do something positive, something physically challenging but healthy rather than causing trouble or sitting in front of a screen.
“As such, I would hugely appreciate any sponsorship or assistance to get there.
“I'm not afraid of hard work – I worked and saved every cent myself to get to Spain and I'm currently working every hour Coles will give me.
“But without help from a sponsor or a boost to the go fund me page, I'm really going to struggle to get there in the time frame – any help will be very gratefully received.”
During his career, Jackson has also played for Paihia Football Club, Taupo United AFC, All Whites Junior Academy and the Shoalhaven representative team.
To donate, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/professional-football-dream
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