Leighton Thomas Jr. took another step towards fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional footballer in England after being accepted into Yeovil Town’s academy for two years.
The 16-year-old Caymanian went for a trial with Yeovil last month and impressed them enough to secure a fully paid contract last week. Yeovil play in League Two, the fourth tier.
Thomas has been a member of Future Sports Club in West Bay for the last three years.
“From the day that Leighton came to Future’s football program, I could see he possessed certain physical attributes and a great attitude towards learning,” said Future’s technical director Roy “Huta” Ebanks.
Under the Future development program, Thomas amassed many individual awards at local and international level.
He was the club’s leading scorer and MVP in the 2013/14 season and really made his name as the top scorer and Golden Boot winner at the CONCACAF Under-15 boys tournament held in Cayman two years ago with 11 goals.
For 2014/15 Thomas was the recipient of the Sports Victor Luorum (Athlete of the Year) at John Gray High School.
On the back of his brilliance at the CONCACAF tournament, he had trials at pro clubs Ipswich Town and Swindon Town in England.
This year, Thomas, who is so versatile that he plays virtually anywhere on the pitch like a seasoned campaigner, was given another opportunity for a trial at Yeovil through the efforts of the Cayman-based youth football promoters Grasspiece Promotions and the Swindon-based agent Fitzroy Simpson.
“Yeovil Town was very impressed with his discipline, attitude, work ethic and saw that Leighton has great potential,” said coach Ebanks, who feels that under the right development program he has a great chance of becoming a pro.
Ebanks said, “I’d like to thank Grasspiece Promotions, Fitzroy Simpson, Bruce Blake (acting president of the Cayman Islands Football Association), Yeovil Town and all of the Future family, administrators, coaches, parents, supporters, team members and most of all Leighton’s parents for entrusting Future to help develop him for what he has achieved to date.”
He added, “Children are like pots of clay, be careful whose hands you put them in.”
Ebanks joked, “Me na finish yet!” He hopes to help more aspiring footballers by instilling the discipline and hard work to improve their game that Future programs are well known for. He also emphasized the importance of high academic standards for young players “and you could be the next Leighton.”
He also advised his fellow coaches that “as much as we teach our young footballers how to play the game, we must also teach them life skills so they can play the game of life and win.”
Ebanks is an advocate of sport being a vehicle to building self-esteem, developing leadership, creating healthy habits, improving teamwork and enhancing communication.
“This belief in the potential sports has to make a positive impact in the lives of youth and adults is the driving force behind Future Sports Club, a new direction for the way to live a better life,” he said.