Dario Weir used football as a way to escape from the realities of life, but it turned out for the better and worked in his favor.
And while the 29-year-old took a three-year break from the sport, he is now back on the Barbados Football Association’s Senior Men’s Team.
“Coming up I would see the guys playing football and use it as an avenue to escape the realities of growing up when you’re not that fortunate, and to channel my energy in a more positive direction. Without the beginning, and if I didn’t get the guidance and experiences from Empire there wouldn’t have been a Soccer School. I’ve lost friends I played football with; who wasn’t murdered is in jail, and the realities of situations people were exposed to,” he said.
Born and bred in Bank Hall, St Michael, Weir started playing football for Empire at age 12 before moving on to Pro Shottas Soccer School. He then returned to the Mighty Blues before moving on to the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme in 2012.
“Empire was a good experience. The coaches did as much as they could do all things considered. After playing for the Under-17 and Under-20 national teams, bigger clubs came calling and eventually I left. But I will always say that Empire was my platform to getting me to where I have,” he said.
The goalkeeper extraordinaire has 21 national caps but went off the football scene in 2018 when he moved to China to study. He went on to the USA to further his studies, playing two matches in three years. He, however, joined the ranks at Paradise before being called up again to the senior squad earlier this year.
“I came back from not playing football for a year and played in the Barbados versus Cuba game, had a clean sheet and realized nothing much has changed,” he said.
Weir patterns himself behind German captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
“When I began to play for the national team and get serious I always admired the German mentality to life in terms of how they never give up. They don’t have the most skilled, but they are the most disciplined,” he said.
Having been Barbados former number one, he said he was happy to see how far the team had evolved given both Kishmar Primus and Liam Brathwaite would have been junior to him.
“Coming back in and seeing the youngsters where I was prior for me it is not a matter of taking over from anyone. I see my ability beyond the field, but I am still glad to see the others would have developed. At the end of the day it isn’t only about physical development, but also mental development and the ability to lead and to demand of your players,” he said.
Moreover, he said felt Head Coach Russell Latapy had brought a more professional approach and demanded more from the players. Apart from that, he said he felt football was mostly the same as some of the players he would have left behind, but the majority of them had moved on to other avenues of the game.
And like his teammates, the Barcelona fan said he was looking forward to playing in the qualifiers of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup when COVID-19 hit.
“It was beyond any of our control so I just accepted it. Everything happens for a reason. It was a bit disappointing knowing all the work we put in, but knowing that it was something beyond any of our control, to me it was no reason to be sad because it was the natural order. I’m just awaiting the call to go back out and train with my teammates,” he said.