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Jordan has just finished his first eventful semester at Northwest College in Wyoming, dealing with Covid disruptions, extreme hot and cold weather, a new sports scene and team-mates from all corners of the globe.
The 18-year-old was offered a scholarship at the junior US college after catching the eye in 2019 at the National U17 Tournament with Selwyn after which he was selected to attend a United Kingdom Football Academy.
“The coach of that invitational team has some connections in the States and recommended me to a coach at Northwest,” says Jordan, who suddenly found himself in the wild west of Wyoming at the start of a bitter winter.
“You could say that I wasn’t really prepared because when walked to the gym on my second day, I was only wearing shorts and jandals but stepped into snow that was knee deep, so I quickly had to do some shopping for better footwear,” laughs Bailey.
Jordan was shocked to find himself in a squad with four goalkeepers, including an academy player from Chile’s top club, but after the two others departed for greener pastures, Bailey was suddenly the back-up to the best goalkeeper in the league.
“This guy was a six foot four and the best player I have ever come across so I learned a lot from him,” says Bailey who was given a few opportunities in the first team, including a match against the top team in the conference that also includes teams from Nebraska and Colorado.
“Usually a freshman does not get any game time in the first year and the game was against Casper who were ranked No 6 in the States. We only lost 2-0 so was pretty stoked,” says Bailey who hopes to claim the No 1 jersey when he returns after his ‘summer’ holiday back in New Zealand.
Much of this will depend on which players the college will recruit for their squad which last year was mostly made up of overseas students.
Bailey hopes a good season with Northwest will then create a pathway into a strong senior college as well as professional opportunities and possibly a crack at the New Zealand squad for the next under 20 World Cup.
“I’m just taking it one day at the time, but training every day in a professional environment with so many good players is really helping me to grow my game,” says Bailey who is heading back to the stifling heat of the American north-west in August.
- By Coen Lammers