Log In

Reset Password

Dashun Cooper determined to take chance at non-League Hartley

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
Dashun Cooper is determined to make the most of an ambition to work in English football (Photograph supplied)
Dashun Cooper at Hartley Wintney (Photograph supplied)

Dashun Cooper is delighted to have a “foot in the door” of English football and is determined to grasp his opportunity in pursuit of his ambitions.

The 29-year-old has been appointed head of goalkeeping at semi-professional side Hartley Wintney, who play in the Southern League Premier Division South, the seventh tier of the English football pyramid.

Cooper is involved at both youth and senior levels at the Hampshire-based club, where he also serves as a video analyst.

After previously working as head of goalkeeping at the International Development Academy in Reading, he was approached by Ross Weatherstone, the Hartley co-manager.

“Ever since I visited West Ham United’s training ground in 2018, the opportunity to work in England is all I’ve thought about, and I promised myself that I’d find a way to get a foot in the door in football here,” Cooper told The Royal Gazette.

“The first six weeks was a bit of a transition to a new environment and way of life, and I had to adapt quickly.”

As well as performing his duties at Hartley, the former X-Roads goalkeeper is also hoping to obtain his Uefa coaching badges.

“My No 1 reason for moving here was to complete both Uefa B and Goalkeeping B Licences,” explained Cooper, who already holds Uefa C and Level 2 goalkeeping badges.

“Ever since doing my first coaching course, this was the vision and I’m very happy to be completing both this year. Long term, I’d love to work in a professional club, ideally in the Premier League.”

The Bermudian, who is also working towards obtaining his Level 2 Analyst certification, has made a “massive commitment and sacrifice” in pursuit of his goals.

“People think it’s easy to find a team or get seen in England but it’s a very brutal life,” he said. “The level, the commutes to sessions and matches, the ups and downs of results, the long nights and early mornings, and the money in non-league never matches the effort.

“But in my eyes, it’s a challenge and risk I’m happily willing to take to reach something I have envisioned for years now.

“I can’t forget why I’m here and where I come from. My reasoning and desire to progress in the game will always trump any hard times that occur, and I must not forget that.”

Cooper has also struggled coping with life away from family and friends.

“There have been moments I have wanted to go back home; mornings where I have cried my eyes out because I miss my family,” he added.

“I missed Osagi’s [Osagi Bascome] funeral and that took a lot out of me. I was in a bad space for a while.”

Cooper also misses the players and coaches he interacted with back home at FC Bascome, BAA and the Bermuda Goalkeeping Academy.

“I miss working with Andrew Bascome, as it’s very rare to be around someone who can teach you something new daily,” he said. “My time with him has been invaluable and something I’ll always be grateful for.”

Cooper is among a host of Bermudians at Hartley including Ryan Lopes, Isaiah Blankendal, Rahzir Jones, Reece Jones, Qaio Stewart, Paris Robinson, Dylan Arruda, Tyrone Burgess, Aaron Gardiner, Josh Dean and Noah Bothello.

Rahzir, Reece Jones and Cooper have signed with the first team with Blankendal and Lopes knocking on the door.

Hartley are nineteenth in the 22-team Southern League Premier Division South, hovering a point above the relegation zone, with just one win under their belt so far this season.

“Surprisingly, it’s a high level,” Cooper said of the level of competition in the league. “When I first arrived I thought this is non-League, seventh-tier English football, it can’t be that good – but it is.

“One player we had on loan for Hartley ended up signing for Brentford’s B team. Some big teams send players out on loan to some clubs in our league.”

Hartley saw their run in the Emirates FA Cup come to a halt on Tuesday night after losing 1-0 at home to Bath City in a second qualifying round replay.

“The FA Cup experience was great,” said Cooper, who was an unused substitute in his team’s 4-0 win over Roman Glass St George in the first qualifying round. “The FA Cup is a magical competition.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 22, 2022 at 7:27 am (Updated September 22, 2022 at 5:48 pm)

Dashun Cooper determined to take chance at non-League Hartley

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon