Hadan Holligan longs to see the day Barbados’ football league joins the pros or at the very least the semi-professional league. And he has every confidence that that day is not far off, which would propel his team to make it to the World Cup.
Fatty, as he is known in other circles, said he and all his teammates enjoyed national training, but as it stood sometimes it could be a challenge.
“During the week we have our substantive jobs and then go to practice. If Messi and Ronaldo used to go to work and then play football they wouldn’t be able to perform the way they do. People in Barbados sometimes complain about the standards, but it is very difficult to work and after a full day’s work go to training and still perform at 100 per cent. Then to go home and get rest for work the next day is a lot on your body,” he said.
And while he noted at 24 years old he could recover quickly, he said he was only human, young or not.
The Real Madrid fan said he was more than ready to accept a professional contract having had prior experience in Sporting Kristina in Finland (2016) and Green Bay Hoppers in Antigua (2018).
“If we had a contract we would only be studying football. Train, rest, train, rest, play, rest so it will just be football. And I am more than prepared to do that,” he said matter-of-factly.
The midfielder, who has 40 national caps, said he had every confidence that Head Coach Russell Latapy was the man to lead them there.
“Playing under Russell it is excellent and even amazing. He used to play professional football and as a footballer, he would have made mistakes. Playing under a coach that knows and understands that everybody will make a mistake at some point, it makes it a lot easier for me. I can’t speak for the rest of the players but for me, it is easier playing under Russell. Once I understand what he is doing it is a lot easier for me,” he said.
Holligan, who hails from a family of footballers started kicking a ball from the moment he could walk. He began his football career at Pro Shottas Soccer School and entered the BICO Primary Schools’ Football Competition, scoring 11 goals in seven games while at St Silas Primary.
He went on to join Dexter’s Brazilian Football Academy while a student at The Lester Vaughan School, but missed out on the chance to go to Brazil when he transferred to Barbados Soccer Academy. He then joined Notre Dame and entered the Premier League, before settling at Weymouth Wales where he has been for the last five years. He also played on the Under-23 national team before going on to the senior men’s team.
“I was excited when I got my call up to the senior team, but I stopped going after a while. The older players were more favored in the times of Carl Joseph and Barry Skeete. I played my first game in 2015 against Guyana,” he recalled.
But over the years, Holligan who has been a part of champion teams Wales and Green Bay Hoppers and who has had trials in Malta and Trinidad and Tobago said he had had a lot of success on his football journey.
“I’ve had a lot of success at club level winning a number of cups for Wales and led Green Bay Hoppers to victory in the League. At the national level, there are ups and downs, but I think just before the Coronavirus came we were clicking to make that step to go to the Gold Cup. I was looking forward to going. To me that is everybody on the Barbados national team goal right now,” he said smiling broadly.
He also turned down an offer to play in Trinidad last year because of the financial uncertainty of the twin-island’s football sphere and did not think it was within his best interest at the time.
Holligan, who sometimes dons the captain’s armband for Barbados’ elite footballers, also led the squad to victory against Cayman Islands and a League B promotion in the Concacaf Nations League last November.
“I was excited to be captain for that particular game. I know it was a big responsibility but I love a challenge. It was fantastic to me and a great feeling,” he said.
Like every other footballer before him, and most likely every footballer after him, Holligan wants to leave his mark on the pitch as a professional.
“I want to play professional football, but if that doesn’t happen I will give back to the youngsters as I already do. Whenever they need boots or football gear I try to help out some of the youngsters in my community in Bagatelle/Redmans Village and I will do that for as long as I can,” he pledged.