Jonah vows to keep pro dream alive

Talented midfielder Jonah Ebanks says he’ll continue chasing his dream to be a professional footballer after attending the Major League Soccer (MLS) Caribbean Combine last week.

Ebanks was among 22 footballers from the region who flew to Florida for the 9-11 January event and be assessed by scouts and coaches of professional North American clubs. They were put through technical and finishing drills and played a match to showcase their game skills.

“It was good playing against other Caribbean players. It helped me realise what level I’m at,” said the 21-year-old, who was the joint winner of the 2017 Cayman Sports Buzz Footballer of the Year award.

The Academy Sports Club player, said based on his performance there, he’s upbeat about his own game. “I’m better than I thought I was, so that helps to bring out my confidence.”

Jack Brazil, who coaches Ebanks on the Academy SC team and accompanied him to the combine, had this assessment: “Jonah did well. The really pleasing thing was Jonah was one of the best players there.”

Ebanks in action in a local match.

However, based on reports, it’s unlikely that any of the players who attended the combine will be quickly snapped up by MLS franchises or other clubs playing in lower North American leagues.

“The scouts that we came across, they weren’t impressed on a physical level with the players overall,” Brazil said. “Within the space of 48 hours, the guys did three training sessions and a match. That is a lot and there were several soft tissue injuries.”

Ebanks added: “One of the scouts told me that he really likes how I play and that he enjoyed how I play, but the downfall was that the competition wasn’t as high as he expected. So, he couldn’t really sign me or anything like that.”

He said some scouts promised to keep tabs on some of the better players to track their development.

Brazil said based on the experience, the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean countries “need to make sure when we send people in the future, they are physically prepared and mentally prepared as well”.

In the meantime, for Ebanks, who’s next focus on the field is helping Academy SC win their FA Cup quarterfinal this weekend, the dream of playing professionally is still there. “I’ll always be still chasing it,” he said.

 

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