As any experienced youth coach would tell his charges, in order to become a professional footballer at the highest level, you need to perfect the basics before the age of 13. Determination, passion and a natural ability are also necessary to compete against the very best.
Based on his interaction with top level youth coaches and scouts, Addae Paponette, a 12-year-old forward for Queen’s Royal College (QRC) form one football team, can attest to this.
Addae’s commitment to developing in the sport has already seen him welcomed to some of football’s grand stadiums in Spain and England. Over the August vacation, Addae took part in trials at a number of top division clubs in England after taking part in a tour with Queen’s Park Academy. He impressed them so much that several clubs even offered him extended trials during England’s winter period, which gets in full swing next month.
While the coaches were impressed, they said they needed a second look because in their words of caution: “winter is another type of beast.”
That hasn’t scared Addae off, though. He’s more than ready to prove himself.
It all started at Arima Boys’ Government Primary and FC Santa Rosa, both of which he played for as a powerful and clinical striker.
Off all his experiences, he described winning the Atlantic Primary Schools Football League as his proudest moment.
”It was an honour to represent Arima Boys,” he said. “It was also memorable because I got MVP awards in all the quarter-finals, semis and finals.”
Addae got his first real look at elite football last year.
While playing for FC Santa Rosa, he won a chance to visit FC Barcelona’s academy with two other boys selected ahead of about 150 others at the Milo FC Barcelona Football Tournament hosted at Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima.
With these once-in-a-lifetime experiences already under his belt, Addae is more motivated than ever to achieve his dream.
His target? Playing in the English Premier League, ideally with his favourite football club, Liverpool FC.
“I’ve always loved Liverpool because their culture and style of playing is great and I respect coach (Jergen) Klopp,” Addae said.
“That’s where I see myself in 10 years; graduating, playing in the Premier League and being one of the best young players in the world.”
Not to mention wearing the red, white and black.
“I would love to take my country to another World Cup to show the world that Trinidad (and Tobago) has what it takes.” TT’s only appearance at the World Cup to date came in 2006.
Apart from being talented with the ball and taller and stockier than the average 12 year-old, Addae is otherwise a regular boy.
He said he was once fat and got his diet under control but still has a weakness for home cooked food. “I have so many favourite dishes but if I had to choose, I would say both my grandmothers’ pelau and I also love pasta, Alfredo especially.”
Addae, who only began life at QRC earlier this month, said he is proud to attend the college and his experience so far has been “better than expected.”
“I’ve made new friends, I love my teachers and I’m managing my subjects well. It is an honour to attend one of the oldest legendary colleges in Trinidad. I’m hoping to bring some football titles back,” he said.
When asked what his favourite subject is, Addae replied, “I’m loving French. I love languages and French seems fun to learn.”
Addae also enjoys hobbies such as cooking and fishing. And while football is his primary passion, he’s done well in other sports, having won awards in table tennis, cricket and even jump rope.
“Table tennis is my favourite sport apart from football,” he said and credits his coach Trevor McIntosh for teaching him both sports.
Addae also thanked his father, Abu, who he said puts in extra work night after night.
“I love training with my father. He always pushes me.”
His favourite athletes are retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and Juventus FC forward Cristiano Ronaldo, whose attributes he sees within himself.
“They are both hard-working, their diet is clean, they have great charisma and they love people. So that’s why they’re my favourite athletes.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday