Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme attacking midfielder Omani Leacock is now one step closer to living his lifelong dream.
He recently accepted a two-year scholarship to Lakeland Community College, Ohio, USA, where he will be pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Entrepreneurship.
While admitting his scepticism, Leacock, who is fondly referred to as “The Chemist” among his peers said he was looking forward to the new adventure.
“I am excited for the opportunity to play in a foreign country and to see other cultures. The plan is to stay focussed down there and don’t get caught up in any distractions; just play my game and hopefully, the ability comes out where I can move on to another school,” he said.
Acknowledging it was easy to get distracted, he said he was a “homebody” and doubted that would be much of a problem for him.
“I think it will be easier because I don’t go out or nothing; ain’t nothing to distract me like that. I don’t party or anything like that; those things don’t really interest me,” he said matter-of-factly.
But changes to the game with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has left the 22-year-old student-athlete, who secured his two international goals during Concacaf Nations League last year, slightly concerned about facing the new challenge.
“COVID come and make everything a little shaky even in terms of the football, and certain things I might not have access to over there. I am a bit frightened, but I am willing to take the risk. I am willing to risk it all to see my dream come true,” he declared.
Leacock, who has 12 national caps with the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) senior men’s national team, is the fourth recipient of the BFA’s scholarship program.
The scholarship program, which began in 2017, has seen the likes of national footballers Jeneva Miller, who is on a four-year partial scholarship to Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia, Ranaldo Bailey, who is on a two-year scholarship to South Carolina Aiken University and Keinellle Johnson and Tia Briggs-Thompson who are both on two-year scholarships to North Iowa Area Community College benefit from the initiative.
The last of four children, Leacock said he knew he would be missed dearly. His mother Natalie Ellis said she too was a bit anxious with the Coronavirus and the rising numbers in the USA.
“Where he is going, I am not too sure what the status is there and how widespread it is. I haven’t heard a lot about the conditions down there. I am thinking Omari should be okay if he takes the necessary precautions. It is a little scary yes, and I am concerned, but I believe within myself he would take the necessary steps to be safe and careful,” she said.
But despite her apprehensions, Ellis said she was overly proud of her baby who had been given the opportunity to see his dream come true.
“When he was much younger he used to eat, drink and sleep football, so this is his opportunity of a lifetime and I am nothing but proud and happy for him. If he goes pro, that is even better. Either way I look at it, I am very proud of him because right now the possibilities are endless,” she said smiling brightly.
Meanwhile, BFA’s General Secretary Edwyn Wood said: “The BFA is happy to assist another one of our very talented national players in Omani Leacock. I believe with commitment and the right attitude he has a bright future ahead. We look forward to great things coming from him in his new adventure, and this augurs well for our national team in its upcoming assignments."