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Manchioneal striker Smith relishing Reggae Boyz call-up

Friday, May 26, 2017

It is the second time that he is being called up to the Reggae Boyz squad and Manchioneal Community Club striker, Rondee Smith, is aiming to make full use of the opportunity this time around.

The former Happy Grove High student has been a fixture on his team for the last six years, and had a prolific season in front of goal this term, catching the eye of the national coach in the process.

Smith scored 32 goals from 20 games to guide his team to the semi-finals in the Portland Major League competition.

“It is a good feeling to be recalled to the squad, being in the rural part of the island. It is great to be given the opportunity. I really want it, I am hungry for it,” he declared.

There has been a 'bedding in' period for the strongly built player, who admits to needing time to adjust to the new style of training.

“Back in the country we really don't have the resources, so this is the first time I am experiencing this level of training. It took me a little time to adapt, but eventually I pulled through. It took a little time for me to adapt to the drills, but there is a good feeling in the camp and the guys are showing me love. It's a great feeling to be here,” he said.

The 25-year-old wasn't told why he has been recalled to the squad, but offered an explanation.

“I think it was my performance this season. If you are a striker scoring 30-plus goals that is a good sign, so basically I think it's the goals because that wins games.”

His high school career at Happy Grove wasn't littered with success because, as he put it, “the quality wasn't too great”. But Smith craves success for his country and is ready to play his part in making that happen.

“I just want to put in the work and get my team (Jamaica) to the level where we can win the Gold Cup and win every competition that we take part in, but my first step is to make sure I am in the first team from right here, before I think of any game plan,” said Smith at a recent training session at the JFF Technical Centre in Mona.

While not surprised by the call-up, the Portland native said the call came a little sooner than he expected.

“I was looking forward to being called up because my performance this season was high, but it is more sudden than I expected,” Smith noted.

National senior head coach, Theodore Whitmore, has previously scouted the player and says it is totally up to Smith to take full advantage of the opportunity in front of him.

“He is playing well in his league, so we only see it fit to give him an opportunity. We don't know what he will do with that opportunity,” said the senior national coach.

“I have seen him play, that is why he is here. Once you are a part of the national set-up there must be something that you are doing to propel us to give you the opportunity and Smith is no different. He is a goalscorer, he has the body and the ability, but there are a lot of other players out there who also want that opportunity, so it is up to Smith.”

Whitmore has called up a number of local-based players as he continues preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup slated for July 7-26.

The Boyz have scheduled a Friendly International against Peru in that country on June 13 and will shortly afterwards contest the CFU Caribbean Cup semi-finals in Martinique June 22-25.