Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Blake helping to build vibe in Canaan Heights

Published:Tuesday | January 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Cecelia Campbell, Gleaner Writer

National goalkeeper Andre Blake teamed up with his father and brothers on Sunday to take the Canaan Heights Community Peace Flex Six-a-side football competition title.

For the 24-year-old, who is now signed to MLS club Philadelphia Union in the United States, it was a chance to stand in solidarity with the community in which he was born and raised

"It's a great feeling, it's a step in the right direction where the vibes can be high. It's a good idea, football can bring youth together," he told The Gleaner just before he took to the playing field.

The goalkeeper, who left the island yesterday, said he had no hesitation in being a part of the community's initiative.

"As a youngster growing up, I spent all of my 24 years here and get a 'buss'. I remember where I am coming from. I am one of those that believe no matter how bad the place might be, good can come out of it. I am an example to that," he said.

FOOTBALL A PART OF HIS LIFE

The Clarendon College and Glenmuir High School past student said football has always been a part of his life, but he realised it could be something bigger at the age of 13, much by way of his own conviction and the encouragement he got from various coaches.

At age 14, Blake got a call to the national Under-15 team and has never looked back, as he worked his way all the way to the national team.

In 2011, Blake took up a football scholarship in Connecticut, USA, where he pursued communication studies. Last year, he hit the jackpot when he was the first draft pick for the Philadelphia Union.

"That means a lot to me, it's probably the highest point in my life. Right now, I just hope to keep my feet on the ground, with the sky being the limit," he said about his deal.

Looking ahead, Blake said the plan is to continue improving his game as he now looks forward to being a major part of the Jamaica team in their quest to qualify for the next World Cup Finals, which will be held in 2018 in Russia.