LITTLEHAMPTON footballing talent Will Stone looked back on his first season in America and said: “It’s gone better than I could ever have imagined.”
The 18-year-old former The Littlehampton Academy student left England to undertake a two-year scholarship with New York- based Genesee Community College.
Stone managed to gain the scholarship after applying to the Future Elite sports agency, which offers opportunities in America, while he was studying at Southampton City College.
Since making the move in August, Stone has picked up a number of individual accolades, while also seeing his team flourish.
Genesse won 20 of their 21 regional matches on the way to the title and they were also crowned conference champions.
The only downside for Stone was his side’s defeat to Bunker Hill in the National College quarter-finals.
However, the campaign was a success personally for Stone as 25 goals and 18 assists saw him crowned player of the year across all American colleges.
That accolade was something he was delighted to pick up and he said: “It’s been such a great time for myself and the team since making the move.
“For the team to win the regional and conference college competitions was great. The only disappointment was not winning the national college competition.
“From a personal point of view, it has also been a fantastic year.
“To win the player of the year award for all the colleges across America is a great achievement for myself and something I want to carry on next season.”
The first few weeks in America proved difficult for Stone as it was the first time he had been away from family and friends in England.
However, with the Genesse side this season including eight other British players, he was quickly able to adapt.
Stone added: “At first, it was really tough as I was a long way from home and felt a little homesick.
“But once the season began and the games got going, it got a lot easier.
“Another big help was that a number of English players in the team were in a similar position to myself and we all helped each other.”
After such a successful campaign, it will be difficult to top both personal and team achievements next season.
However, Stone has set the target of winning the National College title next season, as well as being crowned player of the year yet again.
He said: “The only real disappointment was going out in the national quarter-finals.
“That’s the one every college wants to win as you are then recognised as the best at that level across America, so we will be going all out to win that next season.
“For me, personally, I’d like to win the player of the year award once again and gain a deal with another college next season. A few colleges have been in touch about a contract once my two-year current scholarship runs out next season.
“The dream for me would be to become a professional in the MLS but to make that happen I need to keep working hard.”
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