Throughout the season, we'll be catching up with our young Gunners to find out more about their route to our academy. This week, Kamarni Ryan lets us know how a switch from Chelsea rejuvenated his career, and how much he is enjoyed working under Jack Wilshere this season.
I got into football when I was really young. I think my father noticed that I would kick things around the house so he decided to get me a football and that’s how I first got the feel of playing the sport.
Growing up I looked up to players like Marcus Rashford. He’s an electrifying talent and he has that knack for beating his man and constantly being a danger in the box. In the future, I want to have a similar impact to him on the pitch by trying to implement what he does in matches and I have massive respect for what he does off the pitch too.
My father eventually noticed that I was pretty talented for my age and signed me up for a team called Interwood FC, which is based in Wadham Lodge. It was perfect as they were very local to my house at the time. While playing for them, scouts would approach my dad saying that I was talented and invite me to trials at academies. I had been at West Ham Development Centre and also had some time at Arsenal before I was officially offered an opportunity to play for Chelsea at under-9 level.
When I was at school, I very rarely played for my school team because Chelsea didn’t want me to get injured. If I did play, I would play two years up from my age but the majority of the time it was up to the teachers to decide and they would say it wasn’t worth the risk. I’d even hear stories that players would purposely target academy players during matches.
I was at Chelsea until the end of the under-14 season. Toward the end of my time there, I picked up an injury and I was not in the team a lot. It was a difficult period for me because all I wanted to do was play but injuries set me back and I lost my place in the team. The best move for my career was to leave Chelsea and have a fresh start. Fortunately for me, it would only be a six-week break until I ended up at Arsenal.
People at the club already knew my dad from when the club had interest in me prior to signing for Chelsea. There were other clubs interested but after weighing it all up, Arsenal was the right club for me and I am glad I made the right choice. When I joined Arsenal, I was naturally a little bit shy because it was a new environment but it got easier because I knew a lot of the boys from when I was younger so everyone was friendly to me and that allowed me to settle in quite easily.
"Being at such a great club drives me every day to be the best player I can be"
I played at Hale End for a couple of years and then I got my scholarship last year which was a great feeling. During my time there, I improved my game in a lot of areas and I worked so hard. All of my family and friends were extremely proud of me but this was only the start of the journey as I now headed to London Colney.
Going from Hale End to London Colney is a massive step up because playing football is now our full-time job. Whereas, when we were at U15 and U16 at Hale End, we went to school for the day and then trained for two hours in the evenings. It’s a professional environment and it’s more intense as much more is demanded from you.
It’s challenging because we’re mixed with older players whether it be second-year scholars or the under-21s. However, I relish the opportunity, and being at such a great club drives me every day to be the best player I can be. I realise the opportunity I have and I know how hard my family has worked and that drives me every day in training.
My family is everything to me and I want to do it for them. It’s encouraging to see guys like Reiss, Eddie, Bukayo and Emile, who have completed the same journey as us, play first-team football consistently. It just goes to show that there is a pathway for us to make it in the first team if we work hard and listen to our coaches.
Working with Jack Wilshere has been an unreal experience so far. When we found out he was going to be our coach, we were all so excited because we have seen what he’s done in his career. He’s represented his country at the World Cup, he’s played in big Champions League matches and he was such a talented player. We can learn so much from his experience.
"My goal for the end of the season is to get back fit and fire goals for the under-18s"
Personally, for me, I’ve been able to relate to Jack really well as I’m going through an injury myself and he’s encouraged me more than ever that it will get better. He’s given me some great advice which helps me to overcome the tough injury setbacks.
There have been some memorable highlights so far which include scoring great goals for the under-17s and also making my under-18s debut which was a brilliant moment for me and I am itching to get back. Another fantastic experience has been training with the first-team. I’ve trained with them a few times and you automatically feel the difference as the tempo is at a higher level and they’re so quick at understanding and reacting to certain situations.
It’s a real eye-opener and it’s given me a great insight into how much more I need to work if I want to succeed at that level. My goal for the end of the season is to get back fit and fire goals for the under-18s. I’m working super hard to get back in the team and I’ve got so much to offer.