Hackney youngster aims to forge professional career in America
PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 June 2016 | UPDATED: 16:39 02 June 2016
Dion Lewis-Kirwan will pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer this summer after signing a sports scholarship with St Louis Community College in Missouri.
The 20-year-old striker from Hackney was chosen after trials both in Harlow and Scotland to study abroad and pursue his ambition to become a footballer in America, where he will have the opportunity to impress Major League Soccer (MLS) scouts.
St Louis Community College is one of several institutions in the United States that offer young people first-class education, mental and physical health rewards and the opportunity to continue in full-time sport – and Lewis-Kirwan cannot wait to get started.
“I’m heading out in the first week of August and I’m really looking forward to getting over there,” he told the Gazette. “This is something I’ve done off my own bat and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me.
“I found the agency on the internet and, with the help of a guy called Andy Newman, we found St Louis. Otherwise I’ve done everything myself and so I feel now it’s up to me to show that I deserve to be there.
“I’m looking forward to impressing the scouts in the first year and hopefully getting a full scholarship, meaning that I wouldn’t have to pay for the remainder of my stay. I know in my head that one day I’ll be on the telly as a professional.”
Lewis-Kirwan – who was raised off Penpoll Road in Hackney Central – certainly doesn’t lack confidence, and believes the occasional knockback in his attempts to be spotted growing up have shaped him into the rounded individual he is today.
The scholarship, which is worth around £12,000 a year, will offer him the chance to continue studying a physiotherapy course simultaneously, having previously been schooled at the Petchey Academy and Westminster College.
The part-time Shoreditch barman grew up idolising Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo but, having won the Inner London Trophy Cup at Petchey in 2012, he has set his sights on earning a contract at the end of his four-year stay across the pond.
Lewis-Kirwan added: “Speaking to Tim Mosby (St Louis’ manager) on Skype, I was really impressed by how he sold the facilities at the college and its reputation. They’ve won the National Cup the last three years in a row so I know I’ll be in good hands.
“I’ve come a long way since playing on Hackney Marshes for Reachout, playing in the Arsenal Development team and then at Wadham Lodge.
“It’s the perfect scenario that I can keep up my studies while pursuing my dream.
“I’d recommend this to anyone who shares my goal of becoming a professional footballer. If you keep training hard, your dreams can come true.”
Dion Lewis-Kirwan is a client of United Sports USA, a sports scholarship consultancy based in Glasgow. They have worked with students from 22 nations worldwide, spanning four continents.
For more information visit www.unitedsportsusa.com