Every matchday programme features an exclusive feature with one of our stars of the future. In a recent edition, young left back Tino Quamina told us about starting out as a striker, enjoying the 'dark arts' of the game and more!
My earliest football memory? My brother used to play for a Sunday league team when he was about six or seven (I’m two years younger) and I always used to come along to watch his training sessions. I loved watching all of the older lads play until one day the coach told me I might as well join in. I did and that’s where it all started really.
I spent a lot of my time playing against older age groups growing up, but eventually I joined my own team at my own age level. It was with a team in Dagenham called Jay’s Football Club.
I hadn’t started playing seriously before then, I was just messing about with my bro. He helped to spark my love for football and from there I was on my own journey!
It wasn’t long before I joined an academy too. I was involved at a few pre-academies and bounced between Tottenham and Chelsea, but then I came along to Arsenal and that’s when I officially joined the club aged nine. It was a really good feeling to tell people at school I was actually an Arsenal academy player, but I remember everyone was really surprised. It felt good to know you were actually good!
Coming into the training ground on my first day as an Arsenal player was a shock, it wasn’t like anything I’d ever experienced before. That made joining quite a scary thing to go through, but once I met everyone, all the staff and the players, and saw the facilities, I was buzzing. I think Matheus Roberts is the only current player that was there on my first day.
As is the case with most young kids, I didn’t really understand tactics, instructions or what was happening on the pitch, I would just go out there to play football. To have fun.
Like most young defenders that come through the academy system, I also started my career as an attacker. I was originally a striker or left winger, but over the years I’ve dropped further and further back until finally settling in as a left back.
I remember the first time I was asked to move into defence… I wasn’t happy! I backed myself in attack. Initially I was thinking, ‘Why am I playing this position? I know I’m better on the wing.’ But over time it grew on me and I found myself starting to enjoy it more and more. I love the dark arts of the game!
These days, I would describe myself as a modern attacking full back. I like to get forward, but I’ll also put in a shift defensively. Wing back is my preferred position, it’s more attacking than just playing as a left back. Physically the role is tough, but it’s part of the game, it gives me more opportunities to get nearer to the goal and get more assists, and that’s what I’m all about.
Making my debut for the under-18s last season was an amazing experience. I had been training with them for quite a long time, so I was thinking, ‘When’s it going to happen?’ So, when it finally happened I was really relieved. I could feel the difference stepping up from the other age groups, the intensity was different, the game was quicker, you had to do everything a second quicker or you’d be exposed. There’s no room for error.
Heading into this season, my initial goal was to make sure I’m involved with the under-18s week in, week out, which I’ve managed to do a decent job of so far. But I’m always looking to improve and recently I’ve been working hard on my one-on-one defending.
At under-16 level, things were pretty easy for me from a physical point of view, but now the gap is closing a bit more and I think I’ve come a long way in that area this season. I’ve mostly been working on showing attackers to one side and picking the right time to win the ball, so I hope I can continue to improve my defending and take every opportunity that’s handed to me by my coaches.
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