CONCACAF Q&A: Romario Williams (Charleston Battery and Jamaica)

Jamaica international Romario Williams (pictured) in Caribbean Cup action against visiting Suriname on November 13, 2016, in Kingston. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

From representing Jamaica in the 2011 FIFA World Cup to making his full-international debut in a 1-0 win over Suriname in the Caribbean Cup last month, Romario Williams is a mercurial talent on the rise in CONCACAF. The 22-year-old forward, who scored 10 goals in 27 regular-season games for the Charleston Battery while on loan from the Montreal Impact this season, is working hard to grow as a player. Williams took some time to speak to about his budding career and future goals.

When did you start play football?
Being from a football-oriented family, I started playing football from a very tender age. I kicked a football for first time at the age of three, but started playing competitively when I got to the age of seven at Suthermere Prep. After that, I started to take it more seriously in high school and then all of a sudden it became a career option. Growing up, I was always a striker until I was used at several positions in midfield with the Jamaica youth teams. 

Which footballer did you admire growing up?
My favorite footballer growing up was Ronaldinho. He is still to this day my all-time favourite player. The Brazilian Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, and Rivaldo were also players that I liked. I don’t necessarily have a favorite player now, but I do like to watch the likes of Messi, Neymar and Mesut Ozil. 

You broke into the Jamaica U-17 team in 2010 based your performances at Kingston College during the School Boy season. How did Kingston College help to develop you as a player?
KC (Kingston College) played an integral role to be honest. All the coaches and management staff there helped me to maximize my potential and helped me realize what I could become once I took the game seriously. I never regretted my time there as it was so crucial in my growth.

You helped Jamaica qualify for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup after finishing fourth in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Jamaica. What was the feeling like to qualify?
Qualifying for the World Cup was a wonderful feeling. The (CONCACAF) tournament, which was hosted in Jamaica, I felt the nation truly united and got behind us. Montego Bay was truly the place to be during that time when we were playing. We worked hard and reaped our rewards, so it is a moment never to forget.

What was it like playing in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup?
Playing in the World Cup is a dream for any football player, whether it may be at the youth or senior level. It doesn’t get any better than that as a football player. I felt honored and privileged to be one of the few chosen to represent the country on such a prestigious stage. The dream was always to play professionally even before going to the World Cup, but I believe the World Cup was added motivation to go on and pursue this goal.

You had a successful 2016 season on loan with the Charleston Battery. How did that experience help you professionally?
This year was a turning point in my footballing career I would say. I started to get regular minutes under my belt and to score 10 goals in just under 30 games is a good return for a young player. The Battery has been a good building hub of Jamaican and Caribbean footballers, so I am thankful I was able to go there and get opportunities.

Can you describe what it was like making your senior debut for Jamaica against Suriname last month? What did it mean to you?
It was another dream that became a reality. It’s something that I always spoke about and wanted to achieve. It was even more special doing it at home in front of family and friends playing in the National Stadium for the first time.

How would you assess your performance against Suriname?
I think I did well for the 20 minutes I played. I believe with my pace I was able to put Suriname’s defence under pressure and thankfully we were able to hold on to the 1-0 win and qualify for the Gold Cup.

What are your goals for 2017 in football?
I am looking forward to building on a productive 2016 both on and off the field. I plan to work hard enough to be in contention for both the Caribbean Cup finals and also the CONCACAF Gold Cup squad.

If you were not a footballer, what would you want to do?
I would probably be an entrepreneur. I’ve always wanted to operate and own my own business.

Outside of football, what do you like to do for fun during your spare time?
I really like to enjoy good family time or simply being around my friends, having a good time whether it may be at home chilling or even at a party.

What advice do you have to youngsters who want to play football professionally?
Keep your eyes on the prize. Work hard towards your goal and never let anyone stop your drive and desire to play the beautiful game.

What do you hope to achieve in football?
My goal is to play this beautiful game as long as I possibly can, maximizinf my God-given talent to the best of my ability and help Jamaica to qualify to as many World Cups during that time.