By Neto Baptiste
Former national goalkeeper, Janiel Simon, said he was devastated after having suffered a broken left arm while playing for local club team SAP in the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s Premier Division back in 2005.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Simon opened up about life after the injury, stating that it had affected his life as a footballer and a student.
“Trust me, that really opened my eyes about life especially when it comes to school because one of my reasons for going to school was for my family and not to get rich. I studied IT [Information Technology] so that when I come home I would show them and teach them what I learned in college, but my injury was tough. I was planning to go pro so it had really hit me hard. I worked hard to come back after the broken arm,” he said.
Simon, one of the country’s top goalkeepers at the time, had gone airborne for what should have been a routing tip over the bar during his team’s clash with Greenbay Hoppers at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG), but fell awkwardly on his hand.
His brother and fellow sap teammate, Tyio Simon, said the incident robbed the country of potentially its biggest football asset.
“That was tough because at the time he was in school, in college and we always had this thing he would be the one to really take Antigua to the furthest point on the map and after that happened we kind of mentally [went] downhill. Bb-ut Peter [Byers] stepped in at a time when Antigua needed somebody and the family needed somebody to carry on that professionalism. Peter has done well although some of us thought he should have done better, but we still have to give him thanks,” he said.
Their sister Heidi Thomas said it took a toll on the entire family, especially on their mother, Rosemary Thomas.
“I was a bit young and still in secondary school but I had to be there for my brothers and especially my mom, being the only girl because it really hit my mom hard, but having the type of family we do which is so close-knit, we are always there for each other. We handled it pretty well,” she said.
Three years on from the broken arm, Janiel was dealt another blow after he was struck in the eye by an object while using a weed-eater to cut grass. That incident caused him to lose sight in his right eye.