Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Former Bridgeport High School Manning Cup standout, Jamiel Hardware, was aiming to emulate his former schoolmate Darren Mattocks in launching his football career through the American collegiate system, but his hopes were dashed after just eight games with Jefferson College.
Hardware was deemed to have played professional football and, hence, not eligible to represent the institution.
"I was at Jefferson College in the US for a year, but after playing eight games - scoring one goal - there was a rumour saying I was a professional, so I had to leave school, because as a professional you cannot play college football," Hardware revealed.
"It was a good experience at Jefferson, as that was my first lengthy period out of Jamaica. The players around were wonderful and the coaches as well."
Hardware did in fact represent local national premier league club Boys' Town before making the move to the US. It was during a league match against Tivoli Gardens in 2010 that he broke his leg, which caused him to miss the first part of his final year of Manning Cup with Bridgeport.
Since the disappointment of not being able to play college football, the 20-year-old has joined Sweden's second division club Motala AIF, where he played the tail end of last season and is signed to play next season.
"After leaving Jefferson College, I went to California to play in a league there while my agent was searching for a club," Hardware shared. He then hooked me up with Motala, the same club my former Under-20 teammate Craig Foster plays for.
"Things at the club weren't all that good, but it was OK; it is a start for me at a young age. I played seven games, where I came off bench in the first two games and then started in the next three, scoring one goal."
Hardware believes the Swedish league boasts more professional-minded players when compared to Jamaica, and they play a more free-flowing type of football. He, however, thinks Jamaica's style of play is far more physical than Sweden's.
The talented midfielder, who is currently participating in the Caribbean Football Union Under-20 finals, has also trained with the Reggae Boyz senior team, and is keen on representing the country at the senior level.
"Right now I would love to be in the national squad and I am also hoping to get a bigger and better contract overseas," he added.