Sport

Roshane Sharpe: a football star on the rise

BY OSHANE TOBIAS Observer writer

Monday, May 26, 2014    

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IRRESPECTIVE of how Jamalco fare in the play-offs, one gets the distinct impression that Roshane Sharpe will be playing top-flight football next season.

As one observer has suggested, he's just too good to be wasting his talent in the parish leagues.

He plays in the number nine position, but wears the number10 shirt — perhaps an indication of his abilities: a blend of the old-fashioned centre forward and the imaginative midfielder. The bonus: he also does a fair bit of defending.

Sharpe scores goals with his feet (right or left) and his head. He poaches them and he hits them in his stride as he breaks with deafening pace. But what he did last Sunday evening at the Spanish Town Prison Oval illustrated yet another aspect to his game.

With about five minutes left for the South Central Confederation Super Eight play-off final to meander into what seemed like a justified penalty shoot-out, Sharpe, a gangly fellow of 17 years with a hip haircut, positioned himself assertively over the football — which sat about 10 yards from a cluster of DB Basovak players, guarding their goalkeeper, who stood a further 13 or 15 yards away.

The exact moment when Sharpe struck the ball with his right boot is somewhat blurred, but watching the Basovak goalkeeper in mid-air, scurrying to his left, then dropping flat on his backside — the ball already cannoned into his net — will be framed in the mind for a long time.

What made the goal brilliant was not only that it was a match-winner in a championship decider, but also because a few minutes earlier Sharpe had missed a goal that even Stevie Wonder would have scored on his worst day. After that howler — which left him on his knees, pounding the ground with his palms — many thought his confidence was crushed. "Him cyah sleep tonight," mused one Basovak supporter. "Every time him shut him eye him go have nightmare."

As it turned out, the only nightmare Sharpe and his teammates were to experience came in the moment when the Basovak supporters, not satisfied with taking aim at the match officials, pelted them with glass bottles. That night, however, the Jamalco team would have slept like bears hibernating in winter time. Thanks to Sharpe.

The name Roshane Sharpe is not new to these pages. Two years ago he was featured by the Observer Central in a profile that documented his "meteoric rise in Clarendon football".

At the time, Sharpe was a Denbigh High student — only a 15-year-old apprentice in the newly-promoted Jamalco Major League side. However, the youngster would turn what was meant to be a learning curve into his breakthrough season.

Sharpe ended the campaign as the club's leading goalscorer, which helped to earn him a place in the last National Under-17 squad that won the CFU Championship, but was subsequently dropped from the team that contested the CONCACAF leg of the qualifiers in Panama. He would also miss the 2013 daCosta Cup season after transferring to Garvey Maceo High from Denbigh in the middle of the previous academic year, which — based on ISSA regulations — meant he had to sit out a year before being eligible to represent his new school.

Today, Sharpe is the fuel that keeps the Jamalco artillery firing. They give him the ball in front of goal and, more often than not, he scores. Give it to him in space, he takes it by his markers and does either of two things: strikes at goal or creates an opening for a teammate.

In the just-concluded Confed play-offs, he scribbled his name on the scoresheet seven times in eight games — three in the last two games, including a brace in the semi-final against Black Stars.

And that's why the Basovak faithful were pleading with their players not to allow him an inch of space.

"Doh lef the number 10!" they screamed. "A him a di danger man!" They had witnessed his prowess in their two preliminary-round meetings, where he scored once in a 1-0 win. Yet, for all the warnings, they were powerless to what he was to do in the dying moments of the game.

When Sharpe spoke to the Observer Central in 2012, he hinted that his aim was to take his talent to the top. His coach at the time, Garfield Carney, concurred, noting that his pupil is a fast learner.

"To be honest, I'm not surprised that he's improving so fast," said Carney. "He's a player who shows lots of promise and is always interested to learn new things. So I thought if we could get him into a good Major League team he could learn a lot from the older guys."

"At the moment, he prefers to go at defenders," Carney added. "He doesn't really like to play with his back towards the goal. He's quick off the mark, has a good kick and his height also gives him an advantage in set-piece situations."

Looking at him now it would be overzealous to suggest that Sharpe has arrived, but should he continue on this path, there's no telling where he'll end up. For now, though, he can be found at the Wembley Excellence Centre in Hayes, Clarendon leading Jamalco's bid for premiership promotion.

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