Jonte turns pro with Crawley
Jonte Smiths dream of playing professional football became a reality yesterday after the teenage striker signed a new deal with English League Two side Crawley Town.
The Bermudian has been rewarded with a one-year pro contract for a number of outstanding performances on the pitch with the Red Devils Academy and Reserve teams this season.
Smith has banged in 25 goals in all competitions so far, including an impressive hat-trick against Wycombe Wanderers in the English FA Youth Cup last November.
The former North Village youth player moved to England two-years ago to enhance his chances of fulfilling his dream of playing professionally. And the move appears to have paid off for him. Professional football is every childs dream and its just been great that I have had the opportunity to come out to England and actually try and achieve my dreams, Smith told The Royal Gazette. I want to thank God first because hes given me the talent and helped me along the way.
I also want to thank my parents (Clay and Nicole Smith) for giving me the opportunity to move to England and try and become a professional footballer.
If they hadnt believed in me to come and be able to do this myself Id probably still be in Bermuda right now and not where I am today. I also want to thank my sister (Hailey) because she has sacrificed a lot moving to England.
Im definitely excited, it still hasnt sunk in yet. I definitely have a smile on my face and today (yesterday) was probably one of the best days of my life.
Smith, who signed a one-year development deal with Crawley Town last August, attributes his rapid ascent in the sport to the Red Devils coaching staff.
I have to thank the coaches a lot because they have helped me come a long way, he said.
The teenaged striker has also reaped reward for sacrificing his spare time to get in extra practice.
Ive been doing work on my own like going to the gym to get fitter to try and give myself a better chance of being a professional footballer, Smith said. I have also been going to the field on my own to do shooting practice.
Since his arrival at Crawley Town the 17-year-old striker has settled in nicely at the West Sussex club.
Everyone is friendly here and we all make jokes and have fun, he said.
We all enjoy our training sessions and its definitely competitive as well.
Everyone wants to win the little games we play in training and become a better player.
After finding the back of the net several times for the Red Devils Academy Smith was given a chance to prove himself with the clubs Reserves.
It ultimately proved to be a seamless transition, as he proved equal to the task, opening his scoring account at that level in a 5-2 loss to Crawley Down.
Having fulfilled his ambition of attaining professional status, Smith is wary that there is still room for growth.
Im over the moon with getting a professional contract, but I know its still stuff I need to work on to make me a better player, he said. And Im sure the coaches will help me improve on certain things that are basically required in professional football.
The hard work never stops and I definitely need to keep working hard to push myself to get further in this career.