Leaving the Nest?

Men’s Soccer Journeyman Odaine Demar Prepares to Leave ConU

Graphic Sam Jones

Concordia men’s soccer player Odaine Demar can be compared to a nomadic traveler. He’s constantly on the move from place to place, never staying too long, and like a nomad, his destination isn’t always defined.

“The journey continues,” said Demar. “I could never say no to experiencing new things. It can be stressful at times, and I know this will not be easy for me. I just love being able to entice people into asking ‘what have you done, where have you been?’”

Come this summer, Demar says he will leave the collegiate soccer world to return to professional ranks. Following one season with Concordia, Demar told The Link that he will be on the move to New Zealand.

In the Jamaican’s lone season with Concordia, Demar suited up for the Stingers in only seven matches yet still notched two goals for the team, which was good enough for the second-best scoring record behind midfielder Nick Sisti.

Following stints with teams in Germany, Sweden, Ottawa and West Virginia, Demar made his debut this season with the Stingers, his tenth team during his eight-year career.

The name of the upcoming eleventh, however, doesn’t necessarily roll off the tongue.

When asked about the name of his future club, Demar pulled out his phone—its screen boasting an enormous crack—and tried to remember how the team’s name was spelt.

“The actual spelling of the [club] has a really long name,” he said.

An attempt at the team name, “Ngahara”, on Google, brought little results. Eventually, it was revealed that Demar will be joining Ngaruawahia United AFC, a team in the Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Premier Division.

Demar says he reached out to clubs and mulled over playing in Ireland and Jamaica, while still debating whether to stay at Concordia, but eventually decided on the New Zealand club.

“New Zealand is one of those up-and-coming markets,” he said.

When he got in touch with the club’s team president, Jared Williams, he sensed that the team coveted him as a “designated player,” a term used for players who are high-profile and agree to deals that are outside of team’s salary caps. This term was made famous in Major League Soccer when the league signed David Beckham in 2007.

“I think I’ll have a pretty good role on the team,” Demar said. “Honestly, I love having roles like [being a designated player] because it puts a lot of pressure on me and it leaves me with no choice but to perform.”

Williams admitted that though details have yet to be finalized between both sides, the club and Demar have been in contact since October. Williams has seen Demar’s highlights online and thinks he could be a vital piece for his team.

“We are keen to add his strength and speed to our squad as we go through a rebuilding phase,” said Williams.

Not all of Demar’s teammates were aware of his impending departure.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of guys about it,” Demar said. “I’ve had a shoulder to lean on with fourth-year guys like Jayson Gallahue. We’re pretty close; I’ve spoken to him about my decision. He’s been giving me advice, helping me [with] the pros and cons.”

Demar also adds that he’ll likely break the news to the rest of teammates during the Concordia Athletics banquet on April 11.

“It’s kind of hard to get everyone together so maybe then will be a good time to let the guys know,” he said.

Demar’s teammate Dominique Smith knew he was going to leave for a professional team, but was still shocked when he heard about Demar going to new Zealand.

“I thought he was going to Kingston,” he said. “He’s going to New Zealand? No one tells me [anything].”

Despite this, Smith has nothing but admiration for Demar.

“I’ve got to give respect to Odaine; he’s [doing] what he loves,” he said. “I wish I could play soccer at [the professional] level.

“He’s a really good player,” Smith continued. “You can tell he played professional—the way he talks, the way he sees things.”

Demar also opened up on his relationship with team head coach Greg Sutton and praised the former goalkeeper for helping him out during his year at Concordia, while also taking some pressure off him following a winless 2014 season.

“Before even coming to [Concordia] I thought he was a stand-up guy,” he said. “He’s literally gone out of his way for me like no one could ever imagine. He’s been there for me when stuff hasn’t been going good at soccer or in class. He’s always been there to give me good advice.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better coach, to be honest,” Demar continued. “A lot of people would question that from our results I guess, but that has nothing to do with the coach. Us, as players have to take responsibility for that.”

Finally, Demar says he won’t close the door on a possible return to the Maroon and Gold, but only if things don’t work out overseas. He says he will miss “every single thing about Concordia.”

“I’ve been treated with nothing but respect here. I have nothing but respect for all the staff and everyone I’ve come in contact with here,” he said. “I truly, truly would honestly miss the school every single day if I was to end my chapter here.

“By the end of the season if I don’t make that contact to the ASB [the first division of New Zealand soccer] or maybe somewhere higher, I have to be realistic and say education comes first for the time being and then, next summer, try again.”