Nathan Borde is another talented Cayman footballer aspiring to make the pro ranks in England, and judging by the strength of character he has already shown, he might just do so.
Four months before the first ball was kicked at the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 Football Championships here in August, Borde signed a one-year development contract with Swindon Town Football Club’s Youth Academy in the United Kingdom.
Borde joined fellow Caymanian’s Sebastian Martinez and Kray Foster at Swindon Town’s celebrated academy following a short spell with Sheffield Wednesday’s Youth Academy.
A fourth Caymanian youngster – Cameron Gray – plies his trade at the Youth Academy at Reading. All four play for the Cayman Islands Under 17 national team.
Borde’s journey to Swindon has been very different from the others. The three youth academy youngsters had the advantage of having an adult support network close to them to rely on, whereas Borde was at a boarding school in Sheffield, 200 miles north of London, a far cry from the warmth of his home, family and friends in Grand Cayman.
This alone is a true testament of his mental strength and desire to achieve his goal of eventually playing at the professional level.
Borde’s only adult support while in Sheffield was that of agent Fitzroy Simpson, who was nearly four hours away in Swindon – 80 miles west of London – and who has been the pivotal figure in the four youngsters’ enrollment at the respective academies.
The technical director at Goald Football Management in the United Kingdom, Simpson is no stranger to the Caribbean and the Cayman Islands, having played professionally for Portsmouth, Manchester City and Swindon, as well as representing Jamaica at the 1998 World Cup Finals in France.
Although Borde was doing well at school, Simpson, who assisted with his initial enrollment at Sheffield Wednesday’s Youth Academy, had been following the youngster’s progress and ultimately was not satisfied.
Gaining permission from his parents, Nicholas and Josette Borde, Simpson arranged a three-week trial with Swindon for the youngster in March.
Pleased with what he saw, Jeremy Newton, Swindon’s Youth Academy Manager, invited Borde to tour Holland with Swindon’s Under-13 squad.
Three weeks later, Newton offered him a one-year development contract and after gaining acceptance into the school Martinez attends and arranging suitable housing arrangements in Swindon, Borde became the newest recruit at Swindon Town’s Youth Academy.
A beaming Nicholas Borde said, “We are obviously very, very proud of Nathan. My wife and I cannot thank Mr. Simpson enough for all he has done for all of us.
“To list the many areas of assistance, guidance and general help Fitzroy has offered would be just too long.
“His achievements, knowledge, experience and reputation in the football industry is well respected at the highest levels and he has been an inspiration for Nathan.
“He demands the very best from Nathan and pushes him in every aspect to become a better footballer and a well-rounded, disciplined young man.”
Realizing that he has a long way to go and much to learn, Borde has already settled well at school and at his new club.
Last week he scored a goal and assisted with another as Swindon’s U-14s defeated local rivals Oxford United 3-2.
“Nathan is slight in stature but massive in desire,” said Simpson. “He is now a part of Swindon Town’s prestigious academy on merit.
“I cannot think of another 14-year old who would leave the safety net of his family to be alone in a strange country.
“Nathan’s journey is now real and he fully understands that, with the proper work ethic, his targets can be achieved, which is the same for all the youngsters at Swindon Town.”
Nicholas Borde added, “We thank the many coaches who have made a positive impact in Nathan’s development including Winston Chung, John Megson at Sheffield Wednesday, Virgil Seymour, Bruce Sigsworth and Paolo Polloni.”
A new journey has begun for the youngster and one that the Cayman Islands will be following very closely.