By Neto Baptiste
Twelve-year-old Antiguan and North Coast FC striker, Drake Hadeed, has signed with the West Ham FC Academy following a successful trial with the England-based football club.
News of this came late Monday via the North Coast FC and President of the club Daniel Rogerson heralded the achievement as massive for the player, the club, and the country.
“This is such a massive achievement in itself because West Ham under-13s have 18 spots available in their squad; in England alone there are literally thousands of boys who have that dream to be where Drake is today, and it’s extremely difficult and that’s putting it mildly, to get looked at, to get a trial is difficult. Drake was given an eight-week trial and he, literally, was signed after one week and one game. He played a game against Arsenal on Sunday in which he scored a fantastic goal from between the 18 yards box and the halfway line and straight after that West Ham said ‘look, we want to get this done’,” he said.
Drake, the son of David and Jessica Hadeed, is the first young Antiguan within the last decade to sign with an England-based club.
Rogerson said the entire North Coast FC fraternity is revelling in Drake’s success.
“We’ve had our challenges along the way, but today is a very proud day for the club. It’s a proud day for the family of Drake, and it’s a proud day for Antigua as well. It’s about all of the sacrifices we have made and despite all of the challenges along the way, we are happy today,” the president said.
Meanwhile, secretary and public relations officer for the North Coast FC, Michael Douglas, said a relationship with a scouting academy in England would have provided Drake with an opportunity to put his talent on display.
“Well, actually, it was something we were working on where we have had a partnership with a scouting academy in England — Ace Academy — and when we announced our partnership with them Drake’s family was one of the first to take up the opportunity and they went up there [England] and they got called up on it after a training match, which was quite surprising,” he said.
The North Coast FC continues to host sessions guided by the protocols stipulated by the relevant health authorities.