Laiith Fairnie moved to Hartpury to develop his football, and he has done that for sure. He has since been representing both England Schoolboys and England Colleges teams at U18 level, and even looks set to captain the England Colleges team in a Euro Tournament in Italy later this month.

Dan Andrade caught up with the Jersey born talented footballer about his journey so far and where he wants to go in the football world.

Did you enjoy playing football in Jersey growing up, where did you play? 

When I first started playing I loved football in Jersey, having a competitive league and good coaches around me. I began playing in Jersey under Dan Seviour who was a great coach for me and helped me develop throughout my early years. I spent the bulk of my time at Jersey Wanderers with Alan Yates and Shaun A’Court as my coaches who were some of the best coaches I have had. Now, when I am back on the Island I currently train and play as much as possible with Grouville FC under Paul Carberry and Dave Fitton, who gave me my first taste of men’s football, taking me under their wing with a very welcoming squad as well. 

What made you decide to join Hartpury College? Was it an easy decision? 

I found choosing Hartpury a last-minute choice and generally going to the UK wasn’t an option for me at first. I found out about it through my dad’s friend whose son went to the college. From wanting something more and wanting to develop my football I chose to move away from home and took a chance on football in the UK. I feel like Jersey gave me all I wanted footballing wise to develop and thought the UK would let me strive for higher standards. Moving away was difficult at first but you grasp what you want to do and become motivated. Moreover, it has given me a view on what being self-dependant was like.

How has the football with Hartpury been?

Hartpury has developed me on and off the pitch as a player and person. I find the football here very high quality that challenges you at every standard you play whether it’s College or Men’s level. With the status that Hartpury brings to their football and standards they strive for, it helps all the players maintain their own standards. Within the Hartpury squad you have three or four others wanting to take your position which keeps you on your toes. Having competitions like Nationals and cups also help you improve and see the standards you need reach to be at the top level of English Schools/College football.

You play for England colleges too, how proud are you of that call up? 

Playing for any national team is an honour especially with the prestige of England. I’m extremely proud to be representing both England squads for my age group. I find this a very high standard. The movement off the ball is quality, and fitness of the players is high. It seems that they have a different hunger once you get to national level and their standards are greater. Also, captaining the side felt like a new achievement in itself. To be trusted by the coaches to play at that level and lead the squad was great. I’m excited to be travelling with the squad on an upcoming international tournament in Rome, Italy coming up late February.

You’ve also captained the side, how much of a privilege is that? 

I felt this was a massive privilege to be trusted at that level to captain the side and show my abilities as a leader. A lot of famous players before me have captained England sides at school boys and colleges level. I am hoping to push both sides into winning the shield and international tournament. 

How did the trials go for the U18s schoolboys side go? 

The standard of the latest trial showed the level of quality players across the UK and whether or not they are in academies, the players are still of a high level. Of course a-lot of these boys have been ex-academy players and have experience in that professional set up. It upholds to the standard I thought the trial would be and gave me a good overview of the standard I need to maintain to be at the top level and push for academy football/a professional contract. 

Have you had a favourite experience on your path so far? 

I have not had a favourite experience yet but am excited for what is to come next and how much more I can learn from everyone around me. Personally for me the best experiences will come in the shield against top players across the UK comparing myself to others and seeing my level. This will also help me gain experience under higher pressure situations and match me to play higher level opponents, and I am hoping to show my qualities and abilities. 

How pleased are you that you gambled and went down this route? 

I’m very pleased I went down this route and would recommend the UK, and Hartpury, to everyone who wants to take football seriously and wants to develop as a player. Also, helping me gain an education whilst playing my football will give me a better back up plan if I go to University. I have always been one to gamble my odds and to back myself as an individual. Coming to the UK opened my eyes to more expectations and motivation for everything that I perform in, whether it is academic or sporting.

Finally, what are you goals for the future?

My goals for the future is to hopefully gain a professional contract within the next year or two. This will help me get on the ladder of the professional game and work my way up to playing as high as I can possibly go. Then, hopefully, making a living out of what I love doing and if that all succeeds then to represent the national side and get capped. This will lead one off of another and I feel I only need one opportunity to take this and thrive.

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