CONCACAF Q&A: Omar Holness (Real Salt Lake & Jamaica)

Omar Holness is an ambitious young footballer. The 22-year-old Liverpool F.C. fan has played at every age-group level for Jamaica and was honoured with the nation’s Prime Minister’s Award in Sports in 2011. Now that he has broken into the senior team, Holness is aiming for greater things ahead. He took some time to speak to

How old were you when you first started to play football?
I first started playing football at four-years-old for my preparatory school, Mona Prep. This is where I developed my passion and desire to play football. 

How key was Mona Prep, Real Mona and Wolmers Boys in your development in football?
Playing for all these teams at the different levels was crucial for me because it instilled a competitive desire within me to win at all times, as well as increasing my love for the game every time I stepped foot on the field. It was a pleasure to play for all three of these teams growing up. 

You helped Jamaica qualify for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup after finishing fourth in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. What was it like captaining Jamaica at the World Cup in Mexico?
To be the captain of any team is a major accomplishment that comes with major responsibilities. To be the captain of a World Cup qualifying and participating team was absolutely amazing. A true testament to hard work and dedication. It is one of my best memories for sure. 

You just played your first full season as a professional with Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer. How do you compare MLS to the football you played in Jamaica?
Playing in MLS is a great achievement. MLS is quite similar to football in Jamaica, but differs greatly as well. The physicality of the MLS resembles football in Jamaica. The biggest difference between football in the MLS to that of football in Jamaica, is the speed of play. MLS, in my opinion, is a lot faster. 

You were part of the Jamaica squad that finished as runner-up to Mexico in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. How was that experience?
Being a part of the 2015 Gold Cup team has been my second greatest achievement behind qualifying for the U-17 World Cup. It was truly a great experience being in front of 60,000 – 70,000 spectators, in addition to winning all but that one game against Mexico in the final. I enjoyed this experience thoroughly.

What are your goals as a professional for both club and country?
My professional goal is to have a long, healthy career, both at the international and club levels. Achieving this will be a success for me. 

Outside of football, what do you do for fun?
Outside of football, I like to read biographies of many athletes. In addition, I enjoy watching films of professional athletes and other sports-related movies.

What advice do you have to youths who want to play football professionally?
My advice to youths looking to play professionally would be to work hard, dedicate yourself to the game and to your academics. And, finally be the best you can be every single time you step on the pitch. By following these three things, they will do very well. 

Are there any footballers to whom you looked up?
Growing up, I always admired (former Jamaica international) Andy Williams as my local hero, and Steven Gerrard as my international idol.