From education to employment

From Bradford College to Sheffield Wednesday

Omar Damba

A former Bradford College student has scored his dream career of being a professional footballer.

Omar Damba, who studied Sport at the college, has been signed by Sheffield Wednesday on an 18-month deal.

The 19-year-old striker has agreed terms with the Championship after impressing during a trial with the Owls’ Development Squad.

On signing his first professional contract, Damba said: “It’s an historic club and I’m here to give everything and help the team. I want to score goals.

“I want to play for the first team and I will give my everything to get there.”

The teenager came to the South Yorkshire side’s attention after scoring a hat-trick against their academy while playing for RIASA –  Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy  – which has a partnership with Bradford College.

Damba, who was born in Gambia and lived in Spain before moving to Bradford, was playing for the Bradford College team when Kamran Stead, RIASA Assistant Head Academy Coach, took on a coaching position with the college and spotted his potential.

“The first time I saw Omar was at an open trial at Bradford College, and the first time I saw him strike a volley from 30 yards out, rattling the crossbar, was the moment I knew that he had something special,” said Stead.

“After bringing him into the RIASA Leeds Programme Omar scored the vast majority of goals for Bradford RIASA in his first season with us and hasn’t looked back since.”

Ben Greaves, a sports lecturer at Bradford College, said:

“Omar Damba came to us last year from Spain and started on a Level 1 sports course, he claimed that he really liked football and was good at the game. He started training and playing for the College team and showed a lot of excellent qualities. “He was invited to play for the RIASA team on a weekend. Omar was scoring goals for fun with both the College and RIASA team.

“Everyone at the college wishes him all the look in the world in following his dream.”

RIASA was founded by former Bradford City player Mark Ellis in 2010 and its head coach is ex-Sheffield Wednesday, Hibernian FC and Doncaster Rovers captain, Rob Jones who has described Damba as having “bags of talent”.

Jones said: “Omar is a very likeable character, a personality which exudes a confident and fun nature, mixed with an intense drive to accomplish his goals in football.

“The first time I saw him play, he stood out from the rest, my initial thoughts were that this boy is a footballer with a very bright future.”

He added: “The sky is the limit for Omar. I believe that we have only scratched the surface of his potential. As time progresses in his new environment and his focus and drive remain the same, he will have a long and fruitful career ahead of him.”

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