Professional footballer Deniche Hill inspires students at former school
Alumni Deniche Hill left a huge impression on students, teachers and family members during a guest appearance at Paget Primary School on Monday.
The 19-year-old took the opportunity to share his experiences and journey to becoming a professional footballer before fielding questions from a highly captivated audience during an hour -long presentation.
“It was a bit overwhelming for me seeing my old school having not been back in years,” Hill said. “But it was good to speak to the children and let them know what it takes to be a professional footballer and that anything is possible. I was in the same position as they are in at that age so anything is possible.
“It was good to see the boys and girls were really interested in what I was saying. They were really attentive and it was good to see some of the same sort of faces I was making when people used to come to present.”
Hill harboured the dream of being a professional player while attending Paget Primary and was signed by English Premier League side Leicester City last December.
“When I was young I was raising my hand and saying I want to become a professional footballer and now I have achieved the first step, so it’s good to come back and tell them what it takes and show them what it takes,” he added.
Hill, who presented the school with a club jersey bearing his name, also stressed the importance of education to the students.
“Deniche emphasised the academic side, which is what I especially need our children to hear, because they need that to go anywhere, so I was very impressed,” Sonia Raynor, the school’s principal, said.
“He always performed well academically and see to him standing tall and strong, athletic and able to present to the students in such a professional manner was impressive, and I felt proud knowing that he started from here.
“The children were very receptive, especially our footballers in P6 and P4. They were very in tune and some of our P1s were very focused as well.
“They heard something, saw something and I feel they felt something seeing a past student of Paget Primary coming back to them who has been out in the professional world playing football and tell his journey.”
Also in attendance was Hill’s mother and former teacher, Denise Hill, who highlighted how her son balanced education and football to help fulfil his ambition.
“I am really proud of him but it took a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work,” she said. “Just like Deniche said, he was balancing academics and football and I was on the academic side as a school teacher.
“He knew he had to have high academic excellence when it came to playing football and that went hand in hand because scholarships were available for him to be able to go away to school.
“It was always his passion and dream to be a professional football player but I told him anything can happen when it comes to sports. You can get injured and so you have to have something to fall back on.
“I always pushed academics on him and, wherever he went he was a scholar athlete and I am really, really proud of how he has balanced that with his football.”
Hill is back on island training with the national team in advance of their remaining Concacaf Nations League group B matches with Bermuda facing Guyana at Flora Duffy Stadium on Saturday and leaders Haiti in the Dominican Republic three days later.
Victory over Guyana will keep Bermuda’s hopes alive of qualifying for the Gold Cup for a second time and also secure their League B status for the next instalment of the Nations League, which begins in September.
“I think Guyana is a must-win game in front of the home crowd so it would be good to get a result in front of our own crowd,” Hill said.
“Obviously Haiti is one of the better teams in our region so hopefully we can get a positive result and then push on for the Gold Cup.”
Hill is one of two former Paget Primary students to have realised a dream of becoming a professional footballer, with former schoolmate Ajani Burchall who is with Leicester’s English Premier League rivals Aston Villa.
“It’s just so nice to see because those were the same boys who raised their hands and said they want to be a professionals and now they are,” Damon Edwards, the Paget Primary physical education teacher and Hill’s uncle, said.
“They actually fulfilled some of their dreams with sacrifice and their parents support and all of that.”
Another to have encouraged Hill to strive towards his goals is grandfather Ralph Hill.
“I have always told Deniche to stick in there and I really feel proud and happy for the young man,” he said.
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