Shooting for Europe
Reggae Boy Lawrence eyes move to EuropeMonday, December 18, 2017
BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Jamaican international Kemar Lawrence is weighing his options and exploring the possibility of a move away from Major League Soccer (MLS) to greener pastures in Europe. The 24-year-old has one year left on his contract, and while not averse to remaining at New York Red Bulls — where he has played since leaving Harbour View FC in Jamaica — the player would be delighted for a chance to cross the pond and ply his trade in a different league.
Based on where the discussions have reached, it appears that Lawrence is confident that a move is on the cards.
“I still have one year left on my contract, but it is something I am looking to have some discussions about. But most of it I am leaving up to (agent) Damani Ralph. I will be waiting for a while to see what Damani says because the aim right now is really to go to Europe and it seems like there is something possible. So hopefully with the help of God that can work out,” he explained.
“The move is likely to be France. I won't say which team right now, but it should be France. Right now I am looking and hopeful that something can work out by late December or sometime around there,” he gave as a timeline.
Should he make the move, it would be a dream come true for the former Haile Selassie High Manning Cup player.
“Europe has always been the dream; not only to move to Europe but to a top division, top-flight team in Europe would be amazing. I just want to go there and show them that there are a lot of Jamaican players that have more than quality — they have the right attitude, they are determined players. I feel like, for me, going there I can open up the doors, I can open up eyes for other people to really look and say, Let's take a chance on another Jamaican because Kemar Lawrence came and he did well,” he opined.
Lawrence has relished his time at the Red Bulls and believes that he could go on to captain the team should his move to Europe not materialise.
“It has been amazing at the New York Red Bulls. It comes from the coaching staff, the level of confidence and the responsibility that they trust me with. As a young player you grasp those things and I look at it and I am like 'I am not even from this country and for a Jamaican to be in the system and take on such a high role. I am like I am going to do this, and this is what I want to do'.”
“I want to be a leader in that team. Sometimes I look at the team and I say to myself that I could be the captain of the team. There are a couple of older players who have been there for a minute [awhile], but the responsibility that the coach trusts me with, he holds me at a high level and I have to return that trust by performing every week. I constantly do that and I love playing games three times a week, two times a week, it doesn't matter — I love playing games. My confidence comes with the more games I play,” he said with a laugh.
Always one to play with his heart on his sleeve, the boy from the 'East', who got his start as a junior at Harbour View says he is always proud to represent club and country at the sport he loves.
“Every single time I step on the field for the Red Bulls I am representing the whole of Jamaica and it's the same when I play for Jamaica as well.
“I have a different drive [and] the energy is higher when I play for Jamaica because I know that I am representing the entire country, so I feel proud every single moment. And I try to bring that in my Red Bull games as well, and I think the more I try to bring that in my Red Bull game the better player I will be, both for country and club.”
He was amazed at the level of support the Reggae Boyz received in New York during the Gold Cup, which has made him acutely aware of how awesome the responsibility is to represent the tiny Caribbean island.
“Every time I step on the field I feel like I am representing the Jamaicans in the US as well because there are a lot of Jamaicans in the US as well. There are a lot of Jamaicans in New York as well. The other day I was going through the Bronx and I was surprised that so many people were sitting down watching the Gold Cup — it was surprising to me.”
It was the left-footed player's free kick that got them into the final of the Gold Cup, and according to Lawrence, it may have been a moment of divine intervention. So special was the strike that is has been nominated as a “People's Choice Award” for 2017 at the National Sports Awards to be held next month.
“It means a lot to be nominated. First and foremost, when it comes on to that goal, I have to thank God. That game was a spiritual game for me; even that goal felt so spiritual and different. It just felt like a divine connection between me and God and my grandmother who passed away. She was everything to me, but that goal was something different.
“If I win this award, I want to dedicate it to God, definitely my team, but most of all I want to dedicate the award to my grandmother, Norma Seymore, because at that moment, even after I kicked the ball, all I could think about was my grandmother. I wondered if she was watching how she would feel, because she is one of the persons that I always wanted to make proud, make happy, in everything I do, and for her to not see some of the things that I am doing, it's heartbreaking. But, at the same time, other people see it and it lifts up other people and motivates some youths, so there is a flip side to it,” he reasoned.