We talked with, Australian soccer player, Brian Jamba after he had settled in his new home at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. UCF is the second largest University in America with roughly 60,000 students enrolled. UCF is also part of the NCAA Division 1 universities. Since his arrival, Brian has already become a key player on the team. Check out what he says about his first few months in the states.
Athletes USA: When and where did you start playing soccer, where did you play before you decided to go to America?
Brian: I began playing soccer at the age of 12 at a local club down the south coast of Australia called Narooma. Between the ages of 12 and 16, I played for many representative teams such as the Southern NSW branch as well as represented the NSW state team at the national championships. At 16 I was fortunate enough to sign a youth A-League contract with the Inaugural Club Western Sydney Wanderers. At Wanderers, I learned a bunch about football from a great coach, Trevor Morgan. I also attended the number one sports school in the country Westfields Sports High School on a scholarship, where many professionals have now come from. Later on I moved onto Central Coast Mariners were I received the bulk of my youth development. I learned from one of the best coaches, Stu Jacobs, between the ages of 17 and 19.
Athletes USA: What made you decide to go to the US and want to receive an athletic scholarship?
Brian: I made a choice to go to the US because everything I had heard about the college system was positive. I discussed with friends, which were over in the US already, about it and they said it is a great experience and an amazing opportunity to be able to gain a degree while pursuing a professional contract in football. It was something I couldn’t say no to.
Athletes USA: You have been in Florida for about two months now, tell us about your first impressions and what you think is different to Australia in terms of training, organization, university and lifestyle.
Brian: UCF is a great soccer program. The professionalism, in terms of training, organization of equipment, weight schedules, meals, travel and school, is on another level. That is certainly the main difference. I have had experience being at an A-League club and nothing compares. The university is the second biggest in America and it is a Division 1 college meaning that some of the best players are here.
Athletes USA: How would you compare the quality of your team now to the level back home in Australia?
Brian: The quality of my team is really good. We have players from all over the world. It is sometimes difficult to adjust to the playing style because of the different personalities you have but compared to Australian youth level, division 1 college is great because of the mix between the different styles everyone has. You’re also talking about over 200 division 1 schools that compete for one championship and a couple of spots into the MLS, that’s it, so it is much more difficult.
Athletes USA: Can you talk us through a normal day of a college soccer player?
Brian: A normal day in college is waking up in the morning at about 8am and having a nice breakfast with the team. After breakfast training follows about an hour later once everyone is treated for any injuries and so on. After training, depending on the day of the week, weight training follows and then lunch afterwards. After lunch each player has their own class schedule from 12pm onwards and we attend all classes. After classes finish, you have free time to study and do homework or take a few minutes to relax.
Athletes USA: What are your goals athletically as well as academically?
Brian: Athletically, my goals are to win a championship. From there I will be able to show case my football talent in front of MLS coaches for them to make decisions on why they should pick me. My ultimate goal is to make it professionally.
Academically, I would like to graduate with a sports and exercise science degree, a degree that can still keep me in the field of sport.
Athletes USA: What suggestions would you give young athletes in Australia that are open to make the move to America and compete in college sports?
Brian: It is a definite and a no brainer to come to America and compete in college sports. In life there is only one guarantee, that is education. When one is able to get a degree while pursuing their dream in sport, you can’t really ask for more. Also, since it is such a big step be sure you get some professional help from people that know the process and have connections to the coaches in America. They assist you in every step such as on the right choices to make about each college offer you get, interviews with coaches and with the whole application process too. Being at such a great program and such a big school, I know that I certainly made the right choice.