Callum Watson thankful to AFC Sudbury after signing professional contract with Canadian Premier League side Halifax Wanderers
After signing his first professional contract with Canadian Premier League outfit Halifax Wanderers, Callum Watson has thanked AFC Sudbury for helping him get his dream career back on track.
Released from Colchester United after a five-year spell aged 16 with the feedback he was too small, the central midfielder turned to Danny Laws’ emerging academy programme in a bid to bounce back.
He subsequently flourished under the coaching team at King’s Marsh, including Dave Cannon and Craig Power, before signing a US soccer scholarship after the experience afforded to him on two American tours.
After graduating from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, in December, following stepping up from Hastings College, the 22-year-old began training back at Sudbury from January 10 looking to help boost Rick Andrews’ first-team options.
The deal with Halifax Wanderers, based in Nova Scotia province, scuppered those plans due to the injury risks, but he is still training with both the first-team and academy to prepare himself for the Canadian season starting in April as well as offering his advice to the students.
And he will forever remain grateful for the pathway the club provided him with.
“It’s really what started my journey, playing under Dave and Danny,” he said.
“They are the ones that helped me get over to the States.
“The club has been a massive part of my journey and two of the best years of my life were over at Sudbury.
“They are always welcoming me back.
“Everyone has been really happy for me and it is just a great club and great people and I really can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me.”
He added: “It has been great to get back and see some familiar faces and get some training under my belt while I’m back.”
Watson, who is currently based in North Fambridge, near Maldon, revealed he had offers to train with Major League Soccer sides in a bid to win a deal. But he chose the Canadian route to be his professional launchpad to ensure he did not end up without a club and first-team football.
He said: “It kind of led on from when I was with Creighton in the States. We had a good run, making the national semi-final this year.
“I had options to go into MLS clubs pre-season like Real Salt Lake and Houston Dynamo but Halifax got in touch with my agent and put an offer on the table.
“It matched up well for both of us and I’m going out there on Tuesday for a little visit ahead of moving out there at the end of the month.
“I’m just really happy I’ve been given the chance to live my dream going into the professional ranks.”
The Canadian Premier League was launched in 2019 as Canada’s top tier with the play-off champion and regular season winner earning spots in the CONCACAF Champions League, played across the Americas and Caribbean.
Watson added: “It is a league that is developing and growing every year and it’s getting some good players coming out of there.
“One has just signed in the Turkish league and one in the Scottish league as well.
“It is an opportunity for me to build and grow as a player and a person more so I’m looking forward to it.”
His first competitive game for Halifax, who finished second bottom in seventh last term ahead of new coach Patrice Gheisar coming in, is set to be away to the reigning champions Atlético Ottawa on April 15.