JERSEY players have a ‘brilliant resilience’ to overcome any hurdle set in their way.
Fulham has become a prime landing spot for our young footballers and the Premier League club’s academy director, Sean Cullen, believes their mindset is a key contributing factor to success.
Marlon Fossey, Luke Harris, Callum Osmand and Luca Picotto have all been taken to the London club by head scout Malcolm Elias and Cullen believes their traits stood them in good stead to thrive.
Ties between Fulham and the Jersey FA are likely to grow in strength, too, following a new ruling which now allows clubs based in the south of England to offer trials to Island-based players as under-12s.
Those clubs must be accessible in no more than two hours [a one-hour flight and a further hour from the airport].
Previously, only U14s from Jersey could go on official trials with ‘Category 1’ clubs.
‘Malcolm has been somewhat of a pioneer in seeking the potential in players out of Jersey,’ said Cullen.
‘We feel very lucky to have him because all the players that have arrived from the Island have displayed a great attitude both on and off the pitch.
‘Callum [Osmand] has been brilliant since he arrived as a 13-year-old.
‘This season, as a first-year scholar, is always tough. Invariably, you go from being one of the best under-16 players, essentially to the back of the queue in the U18s.
‘Callum has had to bide his time this season and work hard for his opportunity. He probably spent a little more time on the bench than he was used to, at the start of the season, but he’s battled hard and now he’s one of the most important names on the team sheet. Everyone needs that during their academy career. Adversity is part and parcel of the professional game and we aim to get these kids ready for the challenges that will face them when they get there.
‘The kids have to show the ability to overcome and the Jersey lads have a really good tendency to fight and overcome challenges.’
Elias is gearing up to return to the scene of where many of his Jersey players were hand-picked from, the Primary Schools Football Festival, which begins in St Clement tomorrow.
He said: ‘My relationship with the Jersey Football Association dates back many years.
‘They have been great at giving opportunities to the guys who deserve it and have always been keen on seeking advice from outside as to how to improve.
‘The Jersey lads have all fitted into the program seamlessly. It is a daunting for any kid to join, but for those from Jersey, it is a very big step and one that all the youngsters have made superbly.
‘I, for one, am very proud of all the players I have brought to Fulham from Jersey.
‘It is about giving players the opportunity they deserve, regardless of where they were born or where they are from. There is no substitute for hard work and the kids we have seen from Jersey have it in abundance.’
There is every chance that the next Marlon Fossey or Luke Harris will be present at the 2023 festival at FB Fields, ready to make the transition across to Fulham with Sean and Malcolm’s guidance.