MIAMI, Florida – Throughout the Concacaf region, there are amazing stories of success and Jamaica international Kemar Lawrence is among one of the best.
The 27-year-old DF has become a mainstay of the Jamaican National Team and scored one of the most iconic goals in Concacaf Gold Cup history when his free kick earned Jamaica a first-ever Gold Cup win over Mexico, 1-0, in the 2017 Gold Cup semifinal and a berth in the Final for the second consecutive tournament.
It is thus far the exclamation point on an international career that started at the Under-17 level and continued through the Under-20s until reaching the Reggae Boyz. Yet for the left back, the motivation to excel in the world of football began when he was just a young boy.
“My career started while attending Holy Family Primary and Infant School, and I can tell from that stage I took the game very seriously,” said Lawrence in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com. “I loved it and have always been passionate about it.”
That passion for the game lifted Lawrence to a National Premier League debut with Harbour View, followed by a transfer in 2015 to the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer (MLS), with whom he appeared in 118 matches. Lawrence then secured a transfer to Belgian giants Anderlecht last January, but just like in his early days in Jamaica’s domestic competition, Lawrence refuses to rest on his laurels.
“The most challenging thing for me is not to get complacent, to keep pushing myself, to keep striving and trying to do better and greater things. So that’s the challenge to always keep myself motivated and sharp and to keep telling myself that I can still do bigger and better things. If you get complacent, then it’s down the ladder from there,” said Lawrence.
With football on hold throughout the world, it poses a challenge for players like Lawrence to maintain their top form, yet Lawrence has been able to find a way to not lose a step while remaining at home.
“Football is easy to practice and I don’t need a lot of space. Some days I go outside and find a park and run by myself, and I do my abs and core work at home. I also use the steps in my house to go up and down. For me, it has not been that difficult to get the work in,” said Lawrence.
It is easy to understand why Lawrence has become an inspiration to young footballers not just in Jamaica, but across the Concacaf region. His journey to one of the top clubs in Europe is inspirational, as is his message to younger players.
“’Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.’ This quote is so true. So, yes, believe in your talent, but also believe that hard work is what is going to bring you success. And don’t give up on your dream, follow it and pray about it and ask God to show you where he wants you to be. And finally, don’t get impatient,” said Lawrence.
While he solidified his place in Gold Cup lore with his free kick goal against Mexico in 2017, Lawrence maintains that his most memorable moment on the football field came many years ago playing in front of two of the most important women in his life.
“A lot of people think for me it was my goal against Mexico, but for me that’s not my most memorable moment. My most memorable moment was when my team at the time, Rae Town (Under-13 football in Jamaica), played against Santos, and this was the first game my mother and grandmother ever came to. But what made it special, I met a cross from the flank with a diving header to score. Then I looked to see my mother and her eyes were filled with tears and you could see pride all over her face. Also, my grandmother was in the stands celebrating. It was special,” concluded Lawrence.