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Large Abroad | Jamaican Plays Well on International Field

Published:Monday | July 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Tajay Higgins (in foreground) chases the ball, during a match.
Tajay Higgins (centre) interacting with his Hochberg Preparatory football team during a training session.

The many evenings on the football field as a child, in his Mt Salem community in St James, have paved the way for Tajay Higgins to gain a scholarship to study abroad, in pursuit of his dream in becoming an athletic director in the United States.

The 25-year-old is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Sports Administration at the St Thomas University in Miami, having successfully completed his Bachelors in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing.

A past student of the Herbert Morrison Technical High School (HMTHS) in Montego Bay, Higgins said his childhood passion has opened many doors for him, as he now coaches the Hochberg Preparatory School in Miami in addition to Miami Lakes Soccer Club, part time.

"As a child, everything I did was on soccer. I would go home take care of school work, which I wasn't excited about but my mother insisted, then I would head to the streets playing. If anybody was looking for me, they knew where to find me, I was always at the field," he recalled.




"Being a true sports person, I was always serious about football. That's part of the reason why I got a transfer from HMTHS and went to the St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) for sixth form. There we won the daCosta Cup (high school football tournament) in 2009," Higgins continued.

He added, "You have to be able to step out of your comfort zone. At HMTHS, I was comfortable but I always felt like there was something missing."

However, Higgins who is in the process of completing examinations for his coaching licence, had to encounter his fair share of struggles, having grown up in his tough St James community.




"Growing up in a tough community in Montego Bay, there was a lot of crime around. It's easy for children to get caught up in deviant behaviour but I had to encourage myself to rise above the odds. I am, however, grateful for my upbringing because it made me who I am today," he said.

"Part of the reason for earning a scholarship as well, had to do with assisting my mother. It was my mom alone who took care of myself and my older brother. So for me going forward, I knew I had to be serious in order to relieve the financial burden," he said.

He added, "I've always wanted to go to a tertiary institution to gain my masters, because for me, I want to stand out. I am the second person in my family to hold a master's degree and when I am done I am going back to school again for my doctorate. I'll be probably the first in my family to get that."




The football lover said it was critical that young people surround themselves with grounded persons in order for there to be real personal development.

He indicated that it was this desire to ensure that his circle of friends were on the right track, which led his team to winning the Jewish League Championship in May of this year.

"When you are in the right environment and you surround yourself with persons who are constantly keeping you grounded, that does contribute to your development. People might think that here (United States) is a bed of roses. The opportunities are here but nothing will fall in your lap," he said.

"My younger girls actually won the championship," he said in relation to the championship that his team won. "It's in the Jewish league so we compete with all the schools in the league. It was actually my first time as the head coach. I was always assisting someone, but this time I implemented my own methods," he said.