Harvey’s hoping to sparkle for GB team

A WORTHING teenager has been called up to the Great Britain Catholic Schools football squad to compete in the annual FISEC games in Malta this summer.

Harvey Sparks, of Chatsmore Catholic School, was put forward by his PE teacher and was chosen to represent GB after attending a trial with 100 other hopefuls in Leeds.

The team will come up against 13 other nations, including Portugal, Austria and Spain, from July 5-11, and the 16-year-old was delighted to be selected.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

He said: “It means a lot to represent my country and it is a huge honour.

“I feel it is a reward for my commitment as I’ve been playing football since the age of six, but I was just happy to have even been put forward by my school.

“To hear that I had been picked was an amazing feeling and I can’t wait for the summer now.”

Sparks has recently been training with both Worthing Football Club’s first team and the youth side. He made his first-team debut when he came on as a substitute in Rebels’ Brighton Charity Cup match with Peacehaven last month and has been on the substitutes bench for the three games since.

He believes that playing with more experienced players will be invaluable as he looks to make a career in the game. He said: “It is a great experience to play with older players and both the under-18s and the first team have been really helpful to me.

“At the moment, I am really enjoying my football and playing for Worthing.”

Unfortunately for the youngster, he was recently released from Brighton & Hove Albion’s Academy, where he had been since the age of eight. That was tough to take for Sparks but he admits playing for his country, which is regarded as one of the highest achievements in sport, far outweighs taking his career further at the Sussex side.

He said: “Obviously, what happened at Brighton was difficult as I had been there for so long, but getting the chance to play for GB more than makes up for that.

“All my family are proud of me for not giving up after the set-back of being rejected and I hope that I can re-pay them by giving my best in Malta.”

Despite being given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the teenager is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as he hopes to emerge from Chatsmore with good qualifications.

The trip to Malta in July does, however, come at a cost for the family, who have organised a football match at Worthing Leisure Centre on the April 22, followed by a raffle in the bar afterwards, to try to raise some money.

For more details or if anyone is interested in sponsoring Sparks, call 01903 249916.