Willie Clemons remaining upbeat despite injury nightmare
Things are finally starting to look up for footballer Willie Clemons after being forced to spend six months on the sidelines owing to ruptured ligaments in his right knee.
Clemons, who signed for English semi-professional club Braintree Town in August last year, has not kicked a ball since February after scans revealed the severity of his injury.
Because of a lack of medical cover within non-League football, the 28-year-old Bermuda midfielder had to join the National Health Service queue to get a doctor’s appointment, which meant his return to action was further delayed.
However, a GoFundMe fundraising page, organised by James Crysell, the Braintree Town secretary and aimed at helping to assist with medical expenses, has so far raised £3,530 of the £20,000 target and enabled Clemson to secure a private appointment.
Despite the injury setback, Clemons is focusing on remaining upbeat and making the most out of a bad situation.
“It’s been quite a while since I last played football, I haven't done any football activity since February,’’ said
“The pain isn't so bad honestly, I can do most tasks, walking, running but there are some days when I wake up and my knee hurts.
“I've received a lot of support from my friends, family, from the club, obviously the GoFundMe is an example of that.
“Every time I go to the ground the supporters are always interested, happy to see me, sending me well wishes, that’s really good. The support has been amazing.
“I am very appreciative, it’s been a bit of an up and down road having to decide whether to go with the NHS, which is difficult enough in terms of timing.
“Originally I was looking at a 14-month wait for a consultation, that was from March, I wouldn't have been able to get a consultation until the end of this season, but the crowd funding has been amazing, we’re tackling the obstacles as we go.
“It’s also given me a chance to really focus on things I wouldn't have been able to focus on if I was busy playing football all the time.
“It has been good for that reason. Obviously I would love to be playing football but there is always a silver lining.
“It allowed me to get a lot of things in order in my life, that would have been otherwise on hold.”
Reflecting on the injury itself, Clemons, who believes it could have developed from a previous issue with his knee.
“I picked up the injury in a match initially, it was my medial collateral ligament, which I've done that before when I was in Sweden. I did rehab for that then I came back to play, three weeks later I played three games over the course of the week.
“In the third game I kind of tweaked it a bit and then I decided to come off the field. I was fine then when I woke up the next morning my knee was swollen for about four, five days.
“At that point I thought it could be something more serious. I went and got an MRI scan, and lo and behold my anterior cruciate ligament was ruptured. It is a bit of a mystery in terms of medically speaking, because I cannot actually pinpoint when I ruptured it.
“Apparently, it was not as recent as I thought and there is a possibility that I could have been playing with the ACL issue, for however long.”
While Clemons is remaining positive about his plight, he has already set his sights on getting back on the field.
“I am very hopeful to return to football although I do know that the rehab period is quite lengthy for this sort of injury, especially to the extent of the damage I’ve done to my knee,” he added.
“We are looking at a return hopefully by preseason next year, eight to ten months I believe. “I haven’t set an exact date but all of that will be looked into in detail, once the consultation and the surgeon has been booked.”
As well as focusing on a return to action, Clemons has also started to consider his options after football, already making a transition into the insurance sector, which he sees as a strong option for when he eventually hangs up his boots and moves back home.
“I was doing some work in printing, which required me to be on my feet all day but I've since left that, partially due to injury but also because it was a temporary job,’’ he said.
“I've since started working in the insurance sector full-time, which is good obviously I get some time to sort some things outside of football.
“It is a platform to build on when I do call time to the end of my career.
“The insurance sector is massive in Bermuda so it is a good stepping stone towards the next part of my life.”
• The fundraising page for Willie Clemons can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/willie-clemons-surgery