Dever Orgill preaching the gospel of football and life

Reggae Boyz striker talks about his faith in God and hellish road to professional peace of mind

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor
burnetti@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 17, 2019

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A cursory look at Dever Orgill's record with the senior Reggae Boyz would create little or no alarm during opposition research.

For the 29-year-old forward is yet to register a goal in 13 appearances since making his debut six long years ago.

But the Portland native is more than his statistics reflect. Much more. And the technical staff of Honduras, or any other team in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup tournament would be playing a dangerous game, if they fail to further examine the player and not just rely on his international stats.

He is strong, explosive, aggressive, runs forever and, on his day, could prove more than a handful for any defence.

“Work rate. I like to press; I like to run when we lose the ball this is me, always fighting, heading, shooting and speed. A lot of power and aggression,” he highlights as his strengths.

As Jamaica Under-17 captain back in 2007 in the Concacaf Championship here at home, Orgill's team — under the guidance of late coach David Hunt — became the first to defeat the United States of America in any official football game. And the burly attacker was also the starting forward when the Reggae Boyz inflicted a 1-0 defeat in the recent friendly international at Audi Field in Washington, DC, for only the third victory by Jamaica over the US at the senior level.

But he knows fully well that, as attackers, goals are what matter most in this sport. And he's hoping that will change soon.

In fact, Orgill, who now plays in Turkey for Ankaragucu, could find himself as the pointman in Theodore Whitmore's side today when Jamaica open their Concacaf Gold Cup Group C campaign against Honduras inside the National Stadium at 8:00 pm.

“I don't think any striker would be happy with not scoring a goal, that's our job, but during this time I could have had more minutes to get a chance to produce goals,” Orgill offered to the Jamaica Observer.

“But I won't find excuses for myself because professionals score [goals] in the last minute, they score in time added, so this could have been a possibility.

“I think it is a little bit unlucky with the time that I got to play with the national team, but at the same time I would never underrate myself because I know my ability.”

The devout Christian was also quick to rely on his spiritual conviction.

“I also believe that nothing happens before its time and when the time comes then I will be celebrating and saying 'yes', one for the country, and many more to come.”

Could that special moment to register a first senior international goal for Jamaica come today? Only time will tell, but Orgill has certainly charted a course that has prepared him very well to do so.

As one of the standouts for Jamaica at that youth tournament 12 years ago, Dever Orgill's life would change forever after he was spotted by a scout and sent to the Vancouver Whitecaps in icy, cold Canada.

“The first breakthrough is always the most important because it lays the foundation for you, and this foundation helps you with how to move forward. When I left the country it wasn't an easy task leaving my parents behind and going to adapt to a different culture, but all said and done, it was a great experience to be part of such a big club like Vancouver Whitecaps.”

Orgill spent three years in Canada, the first as a youth/development player, before quickly graduating to the senior team in the United Soccer League (USL).

“I didn't play as many minutes as I would have liked, but I got the experience that was needed to take the next step in my career,” he said.

And he was thankful to German Thomas Niedorf, who had scouted him. According to Orgill, Niedorf was tough on him, possibly because he saw in him the tools and ability to advance his career. “I would score a goal in training or matches and he would tell me that I could have scored it better or in an easier way, but it was good.”

But there were “ups and downs” and Orgill thought he had to work “much harder” than his teammates to survive at the club, and the club started harbouring the idea of him playing at right back.

So when the opportunity for a move to Finland, via an old Vancouver teammate [Mason Trafford] arose, he jumped at it and eventually ended up at IFK Mariehamn, where he played from 2013 through to 2016/17.

But the Finland move almost fell through, as on his way there he got another request from VPS for a one-week trial. It went badly, to say the least.

“They said I wasn't the striker they were looking for and that I didn't fit in at their club.” That in-your-face rebuke left Orgill on the brink, as he started questioning whether he was good enough to provide for his family from football.

“It left me wondering if I should continue in football; it felt like a tragedy. I was hurting mentally because I had travelled all the way there, put in the work, scored goals, made goals and did everything that a striker needed to do and I wasn't accepted. My wife and I just had a baby, and I wondered what I should do and even thought about going back to Vancouver.”

With little options available, Orgill went to IFK Mariehamn and was given a two-and-a-half-month contract — a trial contract for all intents and purposes.

“I had to do well to keep the contract, but luckily and with the help of God, who is a big part of my life, I did.

“When I went there I wasn't a starting pick; I was coming off the bench here and there and almost in every game that I came off the bench I made a goal, and this helped me to become a better player there. The next contract I negotiated they asked me how long I wanted, instead of giving me two months. I had to prove myself by doing well.”

In Finland, Orgill scored 50 goals in 94 games and in 2016 they won the Suomen Cup [Finnish Cup] and in his final year they won the league, and from that experience, he secured a contract in Austria with Wolfsberger AC.

Former Reggae Boyz head coach Winfried Schaefer was instrumental in that reality, as it was the German who recommended Orgill to an agent [Stefan Brasas], and the rest is history.

“I knew nothing about the Austrian League, but coach Schaefer said to me, 'I like you as a player and I want to help you, and so he reached out to an agent who spoke to me and I trusted him and we went to Austria, which was a big deal because to me the Finnish League was a stepping stone to bigger things in Europe.”

At Wolfsberger AC between 2017/18 and 2018/19 Orgill netted 10 goals in 41 games before quickly moving on to Turkey at the end of January. This, he believes, is the highest level he has played thus far in a career spanning 12 years. So far he has netted six goals in 14 games.

Married in 2013 to Melissa, a Canadian he met while in Vancouver, the couple has two children — Melia, six, and Dante, four. The proud family man has kept God extremely close to their everyday doing, especially after being baptised that year by a Brazilian apostle who had visited. Their love for the Church blossomed, so much so that they started a Church which reached almost 35 in attendance, but when they left Finland for Austria, it closed.

“The work of God is amazing because I would never have thought about this. I found myself giving the word naturally, along with my wife, and we grew as a congregation and eventually we opened a church, which was amazing. We opened a small church in Finland. We had about five or six people coming in the beginning and by the end this church could seat 35 or more people a small church but very nice.

“We invited people to come, sometimes I preach, sometimes my wife would preach, and sometimes the Brazilians [teammate Diego Assis and his wife], who are now pastors, preached. We did that for two years.”

Orgill explained that in Autria there are a lot of Catholics and, being of a different denomination, he would congregate online with his Brazilian friends, who are now in Saudi Arabia. And in Turkey, a muslim country, he does the same and is not bothered by their religious customs.

“It's not a problem in Turkey because I already knew what we were going to face before I went there, and to be honest it doesn't trouble my religion; it doesn't bother me. They chose their way and I chose mine, and I will not judge what they do because they grew up doing that and I grow up doing this.

“And I am not going to say their way is wrong or my way is right. I just know that what I need to do is to worship God and to put him first in everything, because for sure without him I wouldn't be the same person now.”

Reflecting on his career thus far, the former Titchfield High School daCosta Cupper praised Portland Football Association stalwarts Raymond Grant and Burchell Gibson for bringing his talent to parish and thus national prominence.

He says there are “no regrets”, even with all that he has faced, sometimes contemplaying giving up the dream of playing prefessionally.

“I never forget where I am coming from. Now that I am where I am at I am so thankful, because we know coming out of Jamaica is not very easy. There are a lot of obstacles, but it is just how you overcome them, and right now every single step that I took it called for a lot of work from me, a lot of confidence, self-belief, trust in God, and support from my wife and my parents, teammates and coaches.”

And with the experience gained in the Americas and Europe, Orgill was not shy to share advice to those desirous of playing professionally.

“The first thing I would say is that there is a strong market in the US, with the MLS [Major League Soccer] and USL, and a lot of Jamaicans are very happy to go directly to either of these two leagues, and I understand why, because it is better than being in Jamaica, but that could potentially be the first step of leaving the country, so don't limit yourselves to what you can accomplish, and I am not underrating the leagues in the US, but there is much more to see in Europe.

“Don't stay in the bubble just because you are comfortable, because satisfaction kills improvement. When you are satisfied you won't give enough to improve.”

Dever Orgill's path from Norwich in Portland, through to North America and Europe, is undoubtedly a journey that could well inspire a generation, and his words of advice are a sermon well preached.


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