Kent Player Makes His National Debut!
Former Kent FA U16 Representative Player, Ross Johnstone, made his debut for the England Schools FA in their recent 1-0 win over Australia at Stafford Town FC.
Since playing football in Kent throughout his youth, and breaking through into the Kent Representative Team making four appearances for the U16s, Ross Johnstone has been getting stronger and stronger on the pitch. Eventually making his national debut for the England Schools FA against Australia recently!
Following his debut, we caught up with a delighted Ross earlier this week.
“When I received the news that I had made it into the England schoolboys I was over the moon, I was relaxing in my room at college, and had been thinking about when the news would break to me if I had been successful or not.”
Ross didn’t let getting his call up phase him though! “I didn’t want to think too much about it however when it’s such a big deal like having the opportunity to represent your country(!), it’s very hard to distract yourself from it! When the news broke and my mum messaged me that I had been successful and was going to represent my country, I paused and thought about how I would break it to my friends and family, I wanted to come across humble, and play it down a little bit, but at the same time wanted to tell everybody on my contact list as soon as possible!”
It hadn’t been plain sailing throughout Ross’s youth football career though “My journey to this point has been very hard, I have had to overcome a lot of setbacks, and have experienced many periods of poor performance where things just don’t seem to work out. Reacting to those setbacks and learning from them is where I have improved myself not only on the pitch with the ball at my feet but also as a person off the pitch and has helped build my character.”
Reflecting on his debut, Ross had a message for those who had helped him reach this point in his football career and a particularly proud moment; “I would like to thank a few people who have moulded myself as the player I am today, firstly I would like to thank my old coach, Billy Bone, who coached me from the age of nine years old, his standards that he would set week in week out on the training ground were so high that he always demanded the best from everybody, and that has certainly rubbed off on me. Last year was a prime example of a manager who believed in his players and knew the potential we had as a squad and outlined our individual qualities to mould together our Kennington Juniors team that went and won the Kent FA U16 Cup competing most of our round games with no substitutes and beating three semi-professional sides through the season.”
Ross also had high praise for his current team manager “Next I would like to thank my new manager, Paul Tassell at Hartpury college, for firstly showing belief in younger players like me and Owen Windsor (ESFA player) to start in big under nineteen fixtures and always providing tips on how I can better day in day out.”
Finally Ross had some kind words for his family and friends who have helped him throughout the past few years and more; “Lastly I need to say a massive thankyou to my parents, from the day I kicked a ball they have shared the same passion for football as me and achieving my dream, travelling up and down the country is time consuming and also not cheap so I need to show a huge appreciation to them as often as I can. Also thanks to – Steve Green (S&C coach), Chris Cone (S&C coach), Phil Relf (Director of sport at Canterbury Academy), Brian Taylor (very first football coach), extended family (aunties, uncles, cousins, Grandmas, Grandads), Kurt Byrne (football coach)."
We also managed to speak with Ross’s proud Mum, Anna “We are absolutely thrilled for Ross. He has been kicking a ball from the time he could walk! Ross actually remembers the 2004 World Cup (or so he tells me). He first started when he joined the Tesco FA skills (aged 5) and Ian Varley (Current Kent Representative Team Manager) used to coach him on a Friday at Canterbury High School, which is where Ross eventually attended Secondary School.”
Remembering his journey to the England Schools Boys, Anna continued; “He has played in various leagues, teams, schools, County and now England which is a huge honour, East Kent Youth League; Kent Youth League; Ashford and District League; And Kent County Representative U16 which gave him a lot of confidence in his abilities. He is particularly proud of when his team, Kennington Juniors FC, won the Kent U16 Boys Youth Cup last season. With any sport, the commitment, dedication and discipline to improve yourself is essential and one that Ross has embraced wholeheartedly.”
“He couldn’t have done it without the good coaching, guidance and support he has received along the way which he is very grateful for. He has made many lifelong friends through playing football. Ross remains humble and last year decided to join to Hartpury College to Complete BTEC (Sporting Excellence) in Gloucester (as a stepping stone to being more independent and develop life skills) as his aim is to get a Scholarship to the USA. “
Anna also has high praise for Kent Representative Football, and how Ross’s experience representing his county has helped reach this achievement “The England Schools selection trials process was tough many great footballers were involved so when he got the call up he was absolutely ecstatic, but shocked. Football plays a large part of his life, he’s had to cope with setbacks along the way but all I can say is he is loves football and sometimes it’s just written in the (football) stars. I will like to add the instrumental support from Kent FA Representative U16 squad and Kent U16 Manager’s Ian Varley and Lee Suter who gave him the opportunity to play for his County.”
Kent FA is very excited and proud of Ross for being selected for the England Schools FA National team, and he is a great success story for Kent and ambassador of the Kent Representative Team.
Kent FA prides itself on supporting the development of talented players in Kent. Playing for the Kent FA Representative Team has had a positive impact on Ross’s development, and in the future we hope that we can support more players to aspire and achieve progress through to English Schools FA and professional teams.
For more information about Kent Representative Football, please contact Matt Dixon (Football Services Officer - Competitions) on Matthew.Dixon@KentFA.com or on 01622 791850.