I want to make my country proud – FCV's Alston Larmony
Almost 593 years ago to this day, it is thought that Christopher Columbus first anchored his ship on the Island of St Martin.
Now, one of the island’s own, Alston Larmony, has set off on a journey of discovery. Larmony has travelled over 4,000 miles and finds himself residing in Stamford, the home of the FCV Academy.
He joined the UK’s first international football academy to chase his dream of becoming a professional footballer, but has faced huge changes in adapting to the hectic nature of life at Garden House.
“Here and St Martin are two different worlds,” explained Larmony.
“Home is a small island, just 37 miles wide. Everyone knows each other and it’s very hot. When I was last on the phone to my uncle, I told him how cold it was here and he said he would run home.
“If I was still at home, I’d be spending a lot of my time at the beach because I only live 30 seconds away from it. I go running on the sand to try and keep my fitness up. Sometimes I’d go and play football but my house is pretty isolated so there weren’t many people to play with.
“In St Martin I was a star so I decided that I needed to get over here and try something. Most people on the island wouldn’t have the guts or audacity to come here to the cold and play football, I’m trying to make it out of my country and make my country proud.”
As the winter weather sets in, it’s not been the easiest time for the former under-15 international skipper, as he has suffered with injuries.
He's also had to adapt to a much higher level of football, but he now has state-of-the-art training facilities and coaching, unlike anything he has ever experienced, on his doorstep.
The Caribbean-born defender has also faced professional sides for the first time, which has been a physically demanding challenge – and that's a side of his game he’s had to work hard on under the guidance of Academy Manager, and former Lincoln City defender, Grant Brown.
It was Brown’s former side who faced FCV in the latest professional test, and the squad rescued a 4-4 draw away from home.
Match Report: FCV Academy battle back to draw at Lincoln City
“Playing these professional teams gives us an eye-opening experience,” he said.
“Playing against them is very different but we have to adapt. The tactics are hard to play against so we have get used to it and learn throughout the game. It's tough but they are the level we want to be at.
“The standard of football is so much better here. The coaching and the facilities have been amazing. Being here has improved me as a player a lot already.
“Grant was a defender so he wants a lot from us especially. He wants us to be aggressive and be first to everything. It isn’t the strongest part of my game but I’m adapting and doing extra work to improve.
“I’ve had shin splints but I’ve been training and doing what I need to do. They’re really painful but I’m doing everything I can to get on with training because I have to make the team.”
He’s in the midst of his journey to stardom, but this centre-back doesn’t have plans on returning to his remote island any time soon.