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An interview with Jack Camarda

One of the key objectives that FC Isle of Man is hoping to deliver is to provide young aspiring Manx footballers the chance to play at a higher level without having to leave the island. During the last 20 years, over 50 players have upped sticks and moved to the UK or beyond to seek a career in the game.

We currently have six aspiring Manx players who are plying their trade at varying levels around the world. We caught up with them to find out how they are progressing and to get their thoughts on the concept that is FC Isle of Man.

First up was Myerscough U18 and Preston Youth Team player, Jack Camarda.

The former Castletown and Douglas Royal player has just started his second year at Myerscough and is quite happy with his lot.

Things are going very well just now. I am in my second year with at Myerscough and their link with Preston allows me to train with PNE’s U18 team twice a week. In addition, I am also playing matches for the Preston’s U18s on Wednesday each week. I really enjoyed the first season and I am looking forward to the second year.

Considering his heavy workload in the UK, Jack is still contributing to the local game. He’s currently registered with Peel FC, he made his senior Island debut earlier tis year and of course he’s been an integral part of the Island’s U18 FA County Youth Cup team, scoring in last week’s 1st round tie at Cheshire CFA. What’s the biggest difference in Jack’s experience between the game in the UK and the Isle of Man?

For me it’s the intensity of the game. In the UK you have to be more aware of what you are going to do with the ball as soon as you’ve received it – if not before you receive it. On the Isle of Man you have a little more time on the ball, and you might be able to take a few more touches. In the UK, in my experience, there’s not much room for error.

Although Jack is settled at Myerscough and Preston, it’s a big year for him and his footballing future will take another turn at the end of the season when he will learn if has done enough to be offered a contract in the UK. However, what will no doubt be a nervous period in the life of the former Mansfield and Wolves triallist, will not be a new experience for him. In the spring of 2018, despite two successful seasons as part of Fleetwood Town’s u15 and U16 sides, Jack learnt that he wasn’t to be awarded a scholarship within Fleetwood’s academy system.

In that moment it felt like the end of the world. I’d actually been advised that I was likely going to get a scholarship but within a two week period a new academy manager had come in who had a totally different opinion.

You can’t give up though and I had to fight on. The whole experience with Fleetwood taught me that you can never think you’ve made it and you’re going to sail smoothly to the top. There are a lot of setbacks along the way. The whole experience made me more resilient and independent. it was a real eye opener for me and made me (more determined) to be a footballer so there was no way I was going to stop, and I now have this opportunity at Myerscough and Preston.

Without a doubt Jack has had to grow up quick and despite those setbacks of which he refers, he believes his recent experiences have strengthened his resolve 

The last few years have given me my first experience of being away from home. It’s allowed me to get my head around what I need to do, and what I need to focus on. I also think it has made me a lot more independent in terms of understanding what is required to manage being in that professional football environment should I progress to the next level.

Jack’s experiences likely mirror any one of those 50 lads who have left our shores to seek a football career, and like most of them he’s learnt that it is not easy coming from our small island to get established, so we were interested to know what he thought of the concept that is FC Isle of Man?

I thought to myself I wish this had happened a lot earlier! I personally think it’s the best thing that could happen for Island football. I was really excited when I first heard about it. I believe it’s going to offer a lot of opportunities, especially, for younger players on the Island. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Joking aside if it had been around earlier it might have influenced me, and maybe other’s choices about moving away. I won’t lie it’s been hard at times, especially during the period I was still in school on the island and having to travel away every weekend. Having a team on the Island that could be offering the same opportunities as you get in the UK will surely help make the step up a lot easier for upcoming players.

And with his recent experiences of English and Manx football how does Jack think FC IOM will fare in the English League System?

I think FC Isle of Man can go quite far. The current Island team have shown in the last year or so how they can compete. The game against Brentford B was the best performance I’ve ever seen from an Isle of Man team.

So while Jack’s present focus is on ‘making it’ in the UK, as he explained in closing he’s now far better equipped to cope with another ‘Fleetwood moment’ should the worst case scenario come to pass and he’s aware that opportunities may open up elsewhere, maybe with FC Isle of Man.

I’d like to hope so. Obviously, that’s down to whoever runs the team, but it’s nice feeling to know that there could be an opportunity on the Isle of Man if nothing happens in UK.

Thanks to Jack for sparing his time and we wish him all the best!

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