Teen footballer has big plans for the game
FROME, Westmoreland — Already the recipient of several awards that speak to his skill on the football field in Jamaica and the United Kingdom, 17-year-old Jovauni Williams has his sights set on becoming a club owner and investor.
Five years ago, the teenager joined his father in the UK, an effort to expose him to opportunities in the game beyond Jamaica’s borders. Jovauni is now enrolled at EMC Academy, a football college, on a two-year scholarship. He is being trained as a player and coach. At the end of his tenure he will get a Level C Business and Technology Education Council Certificate, the equivalent of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination diploma in Jamaica, which he can use to gain entry to universities in the United States of America and the UK.
Earlier this year, Jovauni took a leave of absence from EMC and returned to Jamaica to play in the daCosta Cup League — as his father did many years ago. The young boy represented Frome Technical High School in the 2023/2024 daCosta Cup season. It was a return to familiar turf as he had earlier completed seventh grade at the school before he migrated.
When he returns to the UK he will join four other players selected to be featured in a documentary on the EMC Academy’s YouTube channel. It is set to be released in 2024.
Also on his list of things to do is the completion of his studies, earning his coaching licence and graduating as a semi-pro footballer who has played in Jamaica, the UK and Spain. Jovauni is proud of the discipline and consistency that has allowed him to capitalise on the opportunities that have come his way. Adversities, he said, just make him push even more.
“It just makes me want to work harder. When you go out there you give the right attitude, play your best and try to impress and make a difference in the game,” he said.
There is also a practical reason to work hard enough to get in the game.
“When you are sitting on the bench you are freezing!” he explained.
Inspired by the positives he has observed in other countries’ approach to football, he has a few ideas on how to improve the game in the parish where he was born, Westmoreland.
“Three things I would want to implement to improve football here,” Jovauni told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview. “Better and more pitches and facilities, more competitions starting from Under-6 league up to adult leagues, and giving players more knowledge on the business of football and opportunities available.”
He spoke of the pros and cons of playing in both Europe and Jamaica.
“In Europe, there are better pitches, better facilities. You get to play in stadiums, and you get more opportunities as you get more exposure to clubs and agents,” he stated. “The management is more organised and professional.”
On the other hand, he said, he could do without the cold weather.
Another difference playing in Europe, he said, is the need to be consistent to prove you are worthy, as players are rated based on statistics.
“In the last league I played 11 games and scored eight goals and in most of these games I was coming off the bench,” he said.
The son of an avid footballer, Jovauni started playing the game competitively while attending Little London Primary School when he was six years old. As he got older, he also represented the Orange Hill Football Club, West Development Football Programme, and Aaron Lawrence Football Academy in Jamaica. In the United Kingdom, in addition to EMC Academy, he has played for Bredhurst Junior Football Club, Crystal Palace Development Programme, Sittingbourne Football Club, and Sheppy United.
He has excelled every step of the way.
In 2016 he was selected as the Top Goal Scorer and Most Valuable Player while representing Little London Primary School; at age nine, Orange Hill Football Club dubbed him the Best Player; in 2017, when Little London won the Primary School League, he was named Second Place Goal Scorer of the league; and during his graduation from Little London Primary, he was awarded the Midfield Maestro Trophy.
His journey overseas did not deter his drive to excel, as he continued his award-winning spree. He received the Scholars Player of the Year Award for the 2022-2023 season of Sussex County League (SCL) while representing EMC Academy; in October 2022, he was EMC Academy’s Scholar of the Month. He was presented with a citation that read, “Jovauni has been ever present at our sessions and put in some fantastic performances in our games. As well, he has impressed with the course work in the classroom”.
The teenager currently has eight General Certificate of Secondary Education and one Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate under his belt.
He offered advice to youngsters who, like him, love the game of football.
“To all football youth players in Jamaica, I want to say keep working hard. Never give up. Try to keep a positive and professional attitude at all times. Give respect to everyone at all times,” he advised. “Watch a lot of football videos, train every day, even if no training session was scheduled. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask questions and listen, because that is how you learn.”
Jovauni ended his daCosta Cup season with four goals and two assists to help Frome Technical High School advance to the Round of 16 in the 2023/2024 daCosta Cup football season. While disappointed that the team failed to advance, he cherished the experiences gained and networking opportunities that were afforded to him.
“I want to thank my school and my coach for giving me this opportunity,” he said humbly.