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O’Grady on the search for further talent

Welcome reunion: Niall O’Grady, right, head coach of Brooke House College Football Academy’s under-16 team and pupil Deniche Hill at the Iconz Experience EPL Summer camp (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Niall O’Grady, the head coach of Brooke House College Football Academy’s under-16 team, caught up with his Bermudian pupil Deniche Hill while in Bermuda for the Iconz Experience EPL Summer camp being held this week at the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence.

O’Grady took the opportunity, while meeting with Deniche Hill who plays for the Leicester-based school as a left-sided wide player, to look out for other young talent at the camp which catered to youngsters from 8 to 15. “It’s been a good experience to be here with ex-professionals like Lawrie [Dudfield], Greg [Strong] and Mike [Edwards], and its credit that we consider a place like Bermuda where there is a lot of talent,” O’Grady said.

“There is definitely a lot of talent at the younger ages, raw talent, which is good because they are not too overcoached.

“They have really good attitudes and want to learn. One thing as well is they are competitive, but they don’t argue when they lose. It hurts when they lose and that is the motivation and drive they’ll need inside if they want to go far in football.”

Hill, the 15-year-old son of Corey Hill, a former footballer, has been at Brooke House for a year and is pursuing his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

He helped Brooke House College defeat Buckswood 4-0 in the Independent Schools Football Association Under-16 Shield final in April at the FA National Football Centre at St George’s Park.

“It was a successful season, Deniche was a part of the under-16 squad, which is a mixture of our best 14s, 15s and 16s,” O’Grady said. “They got great opportunities to play against professional clubs up and down the country and did well at the national ISFA Championship at St George’s Park.

“He’s been a part of a very strong core group this year, various ages and players from all around the world which is important with the different styles and different cultures making everyone a better player.”

Hill, who plays at left back or left wing, has already caught the attention of a couple of professional clubs.

“We’re in a region full of professional clubs, like Notts County and Nottingham Forest, Leicester City and Derby County while Northampton Town is a half-hour away,” O’Grady explained. “Deniche went through Vinzie Promotions and she helped bring players over and with the talent we’ve seen we are interested in further players from Bermuda.

“We are willing to take good talented players and hopefully help nurture them to become better footballers.

“Deniche knows he needs to go on and affect the game more next year in order to stand out. He reads the game very well and has great feet and is great one versus one.

“There is a good route through the college system and if we can give players a platform to go and play against professional clubs. We look to give them an opportunity to play against college and university sides and be watched by different football programmes while getting a great full-time education.”

Hill says he has enjoyed combining his footballing pursuits with a good education and is looking forward to his second year at the Academy.

“I think it has been a good experience, everyone has been friendly and they welcomed me like going to another family,” said Deniche who is hoping to recover from a knee injury in time for a national youth team tour in August.

“It helps me focus on football, you don’t have to worry about social issues and can get your head down and do well in school and do well in football.

“They are helping me become a better player by not just focusing on the team as a whole but on the individual.”