I’m always delighted to see another Englishman be given the chance to play abroad so it’s very pleasing to see former Southend United youngster Mo Kamara has joined Cypriot fourth-tier side Finikas Ayias Marinas Chrysochous.
Mo came to my attention earlier this year and he now has the chance to continue his adventure abroad after securing a deal with Finikas Ayias, who are based in Ayia Marina Chrysochous, a village based in the popular tourist destination of the Paphos district.
So how did the 19-year-old forward secure a move to Cyprus? Well it all started at a reputable academy in London and came via spells in Essex, Armenia and Sweden.
From London, Kamara began his football career with Mass Elite Academy, a renowned youth academy who deal with players aged 12 – 17 and whose graduates include Jeremiah Gyebi and Yonis Farah, who have played in Sweden and Norway respectively.
After impressing with Mass, Kamara joined Southend United for two years where he also played with Farah. At 16 he left the club and spent time on trial with Aston Villa before returning to Mass who now had an under-18 academy side.
In the summer of 2018, aged just 17, the forward had his first taste of football abroad when he had an extended trial with Armenian Premier League side Ararat Yerevan. After two months with the club he decided against agreeing an 18-month contract due to off the field issues.
The young forward would not have to wait long until his next spell abroad however, as on his return to the UK he secured a development contract with Swedish third-tier side Umeå FC, where he played in friendlies and cup matches.
After returning from Sweden last summer, Kamara spent time back in England playing for Combined Counties League team Walton & Hersham before an injury brought his season to a premature end, having scored five goals in 12 appearances.
It was then following his injury that the now 19-year-old started to go off track. After recovering from injury, he found it difficult to get back into the game this summer and strayed from his goal to make it in football, falling out of love with the game, not playing for two months.
With his love for the game waning and attention turning to partying, a call out of the blue earlier this month would get the former Southend man back on track. A call from an agent he had known in the past presented him the opportunity to play in Cyprus for Finikas Ayias. After some persuasion the club themselves then WhatsApp messaged Kamara to confirm their interest and offer him a trial.
After his first training session, the club offered the forward a one-year contract and arranged a villa for him to stay in during the season, who he now shares with former Latvian youth international Jegors Morozs.
It’s been quite a whirlwind few weeks for the 19-year-old who has gone from potential trouble to signing a professional contract.
“All of this has come from an agent who remembered me from under-1ss and wanted to check on me and said there was no way I could quit,” he says.
“The standard here is surprisingly decent I would not lie, but you could tell I’m different because here they don’t do any skills whatsoever literally touch and pass but honestly, it’s a good starting point.
“Our first league game is on 21st September and I will need to try get in the squad for that.”
Although he admits that many of the coaching staff at his team do not speak much English, he is settling in well with Morozs who has played in Cyprus before.
“I have a contract for one year and I’m living in a massive villa with one other lad from Latvia who played for his country in the Under-21 Euro qualifiers. We train everyday as we’re full time, some days we even have double sessions,” he adds.
The forward, who can also play in attacking midfield, wants to use his return to football to inspire others.
“It feels like a breath of fresh air letting people know the story and I want to try inspire people as well. If you do go off track like starting to smoke, drink and that stuff, [don’t give up] as if your heart is for football you should chase it [and improve your life].”
With just over three weeks before the season starts, Kamara now has to ensure he is back to his best to force his way into the squad as they aim for promotion.