Justin McMaster heads for Philadelphia Union AcademyWednesday, October 22, 2014
BY HOWARD WALKER Senior Observer Reporter
If ever there was a model student athlete, Justin McMaster would be the ideal candidate.
He is cool, calm and collected. He is lethal in front of goal and, importantly, he is doing very well academically.
McMaster, 15, has come in for high praise from the management staff of the National Under-17 team and it is no surprise he had a successful trial at the United States Major League soccer outfit Philadelphia Union Academy and will be joining them when his national duties are over.
"I will be leaving soon for the Philadelphia Union," McMaster told the Jamaica Observer.
The youngster, who is on his second tour of duty having first represented Jamaica at the Under-15 level in the Cayman Islands last year, is just happy to be donning the national colours once again.
The Hillel student is the only member of the current Under-17 squad from a private school and therefore not a participant in the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports' Association (ISSA)-organised football competitions.
"It is surprising to people because this is not a usual thing for someone from a private school to play for the national team," McMaster noted.
He added: "It feels great to represent my country and it's an honour. It just feels good."
Despite not scoring in Jamaica's 4-0 win over Martinique on Monday, if Jamaica are to win this Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Championship, McMaster is expected to be an integral part of their success.
He has netted four goals in his last three matches for Jamaica and experienced time on the Astroturf here in Haiti. McMaster is expected to be real handful for defenders with his pace, skill and intelligent movement off the ball.
"I think we have a great chance of winning it because we are all focused and ready to win.
"Yesterday (Monday) was a fast-paced game and because it was the first time playing on the Astroturf, we weren't really used to it and the ball bounced up a lot. But other than that, the team managed it really good and we just played our best and came out with three points," explained McMaster.
The talented striker, who is not affiliated with a local club but trains at Harbour View, said Argentine great, Lionel Messi, is his role model.
"He is a very humble player and I just like how he plays. He is calm and has composure and great finishing. He is a great striker," said McMaster.
But it's not all fun for the young man, as he has to balance sports with his academics.
The 15-year-old already has under his belt eight subjects -- mathematics, English language, English literature, geography, Spanish, chemistry, physics and business studies.
"Well, right now when there is training I focus on training and when there is school time I manage my time, study straight and try not to get distracted by other things," he pointed out.