The average sporty kid often has an ambition to be a pro in their chosen sport, so it’s nice to see one Caymanian youngster, Sebastian Martinez, paving the way for others.
He turns 15 next month, yet already the diminutive midfielder has achieved plenty and looks set for big things if he stays focused and injury free. Accepted into English pro club Swindon Town’s academy two years ago, Martinez has excelled in the classroom, as well as on the pitch.
He was one of the outstanding Cayman players in last month’s CONCACAF Under-15 tournament when they won four of five matches, and finished fifth overall of 22 teams.
Players like Martinez, Leighton Thomas Jr., Zachary Scott and Michael Cruz flourished. Martinez scored three times and confirmed to Swindon that his development is living up to their expectations. He is also growing rapidly this year, so that is a boost for playing in the robust style of the English game.
Swindon recently renewed his contract for two more years, which will take Martinez up to the age when he hopes to turn professional.
Last season, Martinez scored nine goals and had several assists. Swindon, who are in League One, the third tier of the English set up, only lost to Manchester United’s glittering prospects 1-0, while he scored the equalizer in a 3-3 draw against Liverpool.
As for academics, Martinez won his age group head teacher’s award as student of the year for 2012/13. He also sat his first “O” level exam two years ahead of the norm, gaining an A pass in Spanish.
Barry Martinez, Sebastian’s dad, is grateful to his son’s agent Fitzroy Simpson for his support at Swindon and also for helping three other Caymanians get an opportunity at English clubs. They are Kray Foster and Nathan Borde, both at Swindon and Cameron Gray at Reading.
The help Martinez got from former Sports Minister Mark Scotland was also appreciated, and that support and encouragement has continued with new Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden.
“We are very proud of Sebastian,”Barry Martinez said. “It is unbelievable that at just 14 he has such a mature attitude and outlook on life.
“He has an extraordinary ability to remain grounded and balanced no matter what. He remains very focused. He has immersed himself into both a vigorous academic and a challenging athletic program and somehow found a way to excel at both.”
The Martinez family is aware that there are no guarantees. Even if someone is successful, it can only take one injury for the dream to unravel.
“Sebastian understands this and for any Caymanian child who wants to emulate him, he or she must also appreciate that it’s very important to get a good education so that they can be successful in life,” his father said. “Besides that, it is just common sense that the more intellectual a child, they are that much more coachable.
“Football has come a long way and the game is much more strategic, so being academic can give a player that extra edge,” he added.
For other kids aspiring to be pros, Barry Martinez believes that it is nigh on impossible for them to get placed at academies without having professional representation, someone with experience, a good reputation and knows the system.
He is grateful to Simpson for his support. “Fitz has done everything for Sebastian, from making sure he eats right, encouraging and motivating him.
“Fitz does the extra work with him to help him improve where he needs to, make sure Seb gets in some gym and pool work,” he said. “It’s important to put in the extra effort and time as those are usually the kids that succeed.
“It goes without saying that having guidance from someone like Fitz who was a professional with Manchester City and a Jamaica international who played at the 1998 World Cup finals, makes a world of difference as he can also relate and anticipate issues and make the experiences of these boys as easy and as successful as possible.”