17 year-old Jaze Kabia is making steady progress at Cobh Ramblers, and had a week to remember recently. He scored his first goal for the club, a very late equaliser, against Limerick in a 2-2 draw. Then he came off the bench to score in extra-time in the Cup defeat to the Kerry League, unfortunately missing his penalty in the shoot-out, before making up for it in the League win against the same opposition just days later.
We spoke to Jaze and asked him about his week. “It’s been a rollercoaster of a week. From the low of going one behind to then scoring the equaliser deep in extra time, only to lose on penalties was disappointing. However Damien kept us in the right frame of mind and as a team we know if we play to the best of our abilities we can get a result.”
“As for this weekend we were prepared well by our coaching team, so we knew if we stuck to our task we would get the right result, and as a whole the team we played very well,”
“The build up for my goal was a team effort from everybody and a great pass by Jack Turner set me up perfectly and I was glad to see it go in.”
We asked him about what his best position is, and he said, “I would like to think that I am a versatile player. I’m probably a natural winger with ambitions to play as a centre forward, but playing no 10 gives me a chance to show the creative side of my game. I’m enjoying playing there and starting to feel it’s a more natural position for me.”
As for his time at Cobh Jaze said, “Yes, I’m enjoying my first taste of league or Ireland football. It’s a big step up from schoolboys but it’s all about learning and development for us all, and it’s great to play against teams from all over Ireland.”
He’s beginning to become more of a regular feature now after spending some time on the bench earlier in the campaign, “I’ve sat on the bench and Damien has made it clear everybody will get their chance, so it’s up to us all as individuals to take that chance when we get it. But I feel my goals have come because we have such a good bond as a team and we are enjoying it.”
Jaze is the son of former Cobh player Jason Kabia. Jason also played League of Ireland football with Cork City, Galway United, Waterford United and Kilkenny City. Jaze spoke about his families ties with Cobh, “Well my family has always had a good relationship with the club. The chairman Bob Donovan has always been a good family friend, and I’ve been told he was a fantastic striker but that was a bit before my time,” says Jaze laughing.
“My uncle Declan McGregor was involved in the team who lost to Drogheda in the playoff, somewhere around 04/05. Goalkeeper Stephan Deasy who is marrying my cousin this summer, also had a good spell at the club, and you know about my fathers connection as a player and assistant manager to Dave Hill. So it feels very natural for me to be at this club at this stage of my development.”
Ramblers coach Damien Rowe said of his young charge, “Yes we went to watch Jaze a few times with Douglas Hall. We were impressed with parts of his game that we thought would suit the league. He also had parts of his game that needed work and still does, but his attitutde and commitment to learning have been great and I think its starting to show in his performances for the team.”
“He was a very individual player, but has taken onboard that team ethic comes first before personnal ones which is refreshing to see. It also helps that he played with a few of squad players with his club and school, such as Eoin O’Donovan, Ross Slevin and Nathan O’Connell.”
Speaking about the coaches at the club, “Obviously I’m learning a lot from Damien and he’s giving me my chance to show my ability which I’m grateful of aswell as Ryan O’Neill. Also learning so much from the experience of ex league of Ireland players like Davin O Neill and Michael Hastings (Zeko) who are part of the coaching staff.”
“As for the Manager of the club Stephan Henderson, knowing that he is monitoring all youth development at the club is great for all of us as young players. Everybody knows he is a manager who’s not afraid to take a chance on youth players, as the first team have a very young side and are doing very well at the minute in the league.”
As for his ambitions in football, Jaze said, “Like all young boys in the world we all dream of playing for our countries one day, and across channel, but relistically my goals are one step at a time and just to play at the highest level I possibly can. I hope to keep learning and developing with hard work and hopefully one day I will get a chance to prove myself.”
“I really enjoy watching Neymar. He’s a player I like a lot as he is very creative. He has a direct style of play which not only me, but I’m sure a lot of young players try an copy. Also there are lots of other players like Paul Pogba, Thierry Henry, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford who I inspire to be like, and who I enjoy watching.”
Stephen Henderson said about the talented youngster, “Jaze is a very talented young footballer with an eye for the spectacular. He is still learning his trade as you would expect, but we do see a lot of potential in the lad. At this stage we are looking at all the U-17s and U-19s regarding their attitudes, with and without the ball, and their ability to learn from mistakes. Jaze shows a lot of these qualities so hopefully he will reach his full potential as he matures with the club and we will see where it takes him.”