Gary Freeman believes that football in Jersey is in a great place and thinks that with everyone working together standards can keep on rising, with potential of more local footballers going up the ranks in the football pyramid just like Sol Solomon, Cav Miley and the biggest inspiration to any young talent, Premier League’s Luke Harris.
The Jersey Bulls manager answered questions put to him by Dan Andrade, with the full quick-fire interview below!
Firstly, how has the start of the season been for Jersey Bulls?
We’ve had a good solid start to the season, after a busy pre-season where we used a lot of players. We’ve taken that into the league campaign and after a quarter of the season are in a decent position.
As always playing the number of games we do off island brings its challenges, so we have to remain adaptable. It is early days, but I think the squad is well balanced and in a good place.
Tuesday night was a great night for the club with two teams out – how good was it to have 22+ players + you coaches challenge themselves off island on the same night!
It certainly was, but not something I’d like us to repeat too often, matchday was great but the logistics in getting 30 players all off island midweek was a challenge for myself and Paul, but credit to the players, who continue to amaze me with their commitment to the management/coaching team, who’s support we are so grateful for.
You’ve promoted a lot of youth this season into the first team – how important has that been?
It’s crucial, the formation of the U23 team last season and now the U18’s is giving fantastic opportunities for the younger players in the island to get exposure to the non-league football pyramid and provides natural support to the first team.
I do have to say, we look to integrate them into the group slowly, and you cannot underestimate the role the senior players such as James Queree and Luke Campbell play, plus our core players who’ve been with us from the start, such as Euan, Jay, Adam, Kamen, Jonny, Ruben and others, they help set a standard and an environment that we can bring these players into, and not only the young players, a number such as Lorne, Francis, Frank & Ben came in last season and one of the key reasons for the formation of the Jersey Bulls was to give Jersey players the opportunity to play at a higher level on a regular basis.
How bright is the future of Bulls with these guys coming through?
I don’t think it’s just the Jersey Bulls, as said, I think we are in a really good place, for years football in Jersey was crying out for something to challenge our top players.
I believe we are only a small part in this, with ourselves and the work that is going on at the JFA, you can now see a real pathway for players from Jersey to get into the UK football system. From the fantastic work that is going on at all the clubs in the island, to the JFA Centre of Excellence and into the Jersey Bulls, as you have seen with Luke Harris and now Sol Solomon, there are different ways players can progress into the professional or semi-professional game.
I do believe we all should be working together, the aim has to be to raise the standards in the Island, we are now a small part in the English football pyramid, and nothing would please us more than to see players using us as a steppingstone into the professional game.