A Hastings United defender will be heading out to the United States later this summer to embark on an exciting footballing opportunity.
Liam Wilson has been offered a four-year scholarship to Providence College in Rhode Island, which will kick-off in August.
He said: “It’s a big move for me to be going over there by myself, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to, not just because of the football, but also the climate and living in America as well.”
The 18-year-old says heading across the Atlantic is something he has wanted to do ever since leaving Brighton & Hove Albion as a junior player.
“I know a lot of people that have done it and it sounds like an amazing thing to do; to play football at a really good level and get a degree at the same time, and live in America,” continued Wilson, who only has to pay for his flights. “I’m glad I’ve finally been able to sort it.”
In order to earn the opportunity, Wilson firstly had to complete specified educational tests. He then had to play a trial match in front of a number of coaches, who sent a five-minute clip of him in action to coaches in America.
They viewed the footage and assessed Wilson’s ability, and he subsequently received offers from several US colleges before deciding Providence was the right one for him.
“They’re in the top division in the Eastern Conference playing teams from places like Chicago and Washington,” he went on. “The top division is the one I want to be playing in.
“One of the players in our team plays for United States under-23s so the standard should be really high. I will have to work hard, but it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to.”
Although there will be a big emphasis on football, the scholarship will also contain an academic element. Wilson will spend the first year doing general studies before deciding which area he would like to focus on from the second year onwards, probably marketing or business studies.
“The dream is to get drafted into an MLS team,” Wilson added. “If I can get a career out of playing professionally, that’s ideal. If not, I will always have the degree as a back-up plan. There’s a lot of options and a lot of paths you can go down.”
An academy player at Eastbourne Borough, Wilson got his first taste of regular adult football for Hastings during the 2015/16 season. Under the management of his dad Garry, he made 25 appearances for the Ryman Football League Division One South club.
“It was a hard season with a lot of ups and downs, but to get Ryman South experience at my age is priceless and I’m very grateful for that,” added Wilson, who spent the majority of the time at left-back even though his preferred position is in central defence. “It’s something that will hold me in good stead when I go out there.”
Garry Wilson said: “It’s a great life experience. It’s massive for the young kid to go out there on his own, live in another country, play with different nationalities and make friends from all over the world.
“The good thing is you’re doing a degree. You try and progress through the football ranks, but if it doesn’t work out, you’ve got your degree to fall back on.”
* Hastings United Football Club will hold an end-of-season presentation evening in The Pilot Field clubhouse this coming Saturday from 7.30pm.
Business partners and other sponsors, volunteers and supporters are all welcome to join the players and management team for what is sure to be an entertaining evening. Admission is free.
The awards for player of the season and goal of the season will be formally handed out, and there will be a number of other presentations as well.
Refreshments will be provided and there will also be music courtesy of DJ Dan Willett. The evening will be hosted by Liam Willis, on behalf of the supporters’ club.
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