By: Mikayla Mellis

As an athlete, the drive and desire to succeed and become better starts from within. Once an athlete creates a bond with a sport and develops a genuine passion for it, it fuels an inner drive to become better than they were the day before. Being an athlete gives them the tools to become stronger, to become leaders, to become successful. Head coach of the Baltimore Blast and owner of Bascome Futbol Leadership Academy, David Bascome wanted to help facilitate this growth and give young players the opportunity to succeed. The Baltimore Blast partnered up with Validus RE and BFLA to welcome young players from Bermuda and give them the chance to suit up in Blast gear and get the full Baltimore experience. Not only did they have the opportunity to learn from the best and develop their skills on the field, but they were given the resources and stepping stones to excel in their careers off the field. From footwork to interview skills, these young men were given the chance of a lifetime.

Born and raised in Bermuda himself, David Bascome is very excited to establish this international relationship with the Blast and is grateful for the incredible support of Validus RE. Bascome explained that in this program “the key is not just to prepare them for the college search or becoming a pro athlete but to prepare them for life. We are giving them the tools to navigate through life outside of even just going to college; it’s how to fill out resumes, how to conduct an interview.” Bascome described that these young men come from all different lives and all different families and the key is to get them to understand not only working as a team but also working together to network for something greater. “In this journey, not only are we working on their soccer skills but we are visiting local schools to give them an idea of what it looks like in these environments and cultures. The more they see, the more they can prepare for,” said Bascome.

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As part of this workshop to prepare for college and career readiness, the group was invited to tour local campuses like Loyola College and Concordia Preparatory School. Bermuda coach Karl Roberts reflected on the experience saying that he is “over the moon for this tremendous experience. The growth in having them come here to Baltimore and check out these schools and having the opportunity to possibly further their education here in Baltimore is a tremendous experience.” Bermuda is a small community that has some limitations when it comes to competitive sports, but this trip provides these young gentlemen the opportunity to play against different, higher-level teams and further develop their game. Roberts left the players with this message to carry them through the process, “take every advantage possible that you presently have. Value the opportunity, work hard, and do the best you can. Listen to the information, take in the information, and let this be a stepping stone for your future development.”

Athletes must be mindful that realistically only a small percentage make it to the professional leagues. Young athlete, Jordan Lambe is grateful for the opportunity to advance his future on and off the field. After their trip was delayed last year due to COVID, Lambe, who is approaching the age where he will begin his college search, explained that "it’s unreal, this experience. I am glad I get the chance to experience something so unique that a lot of players will never get the chance to do. Being able to come out here with top-level coaches and train and get to see how professional’s really feel at this level- it’s a good experience for me to expand my game and broaden my horizons.”

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As a professional, the drive and desire to succeed and become better starts from within. Whether you are on the field or off the field, being a professional requires you to be mentally and physically prepared. Being an athlete gives you the tools to become stronger and become leaders; being a professional provides you with the tools to successfully navigate through life. This program has shown these young men that there is more to being a professional athlete than just being a great player. This partnership has created a plethora of opportunities for these young athletes and has opened their eyes and broadened their scopes to look for their futures beyond the goal line.

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