Cross The Line spoke to Aldershot Town defender Omar Beckles about all things faith and football. Find out which world class centre back he models himself on!
So Omar, growing up at what age did you decide that you wanted to be a professional footballer?
“I would say that I was a bit of a late bloomer in that it was always a hobby for me but the lifestyle that I had in my neighbourhood didn’t really promote football. Living in quite a deprived area made it not that easy and accessible so that was a hindrance. However when I joined my first Sunday league team at under fourteen level, that one season and being part of a team for the first time made me wonder why I hadn’t been doing this the whole time. As soon as I got into that environment and enjoying it, that was it for me.”
You’ve got history at a higher level with big clubs such as Millwall. Are you glad for the experience?
“I did play for Millwall, I had a really good experience and was in and around the first team at a young age. Being a late bloomer and then going straight into the professional environment was really surreal and living the dream. I had lots of friends who were playing from such a young age and they weren’t as fortunate so it was a blessing, one hundred percent.”
You’ve even spent time out in Spain with the Glen Hoddle Academy, how did that come about and what was it like?
“After not being offered a new contract at Millwall, I saw that the Glenn Hoddle Academy provides a camp for boys that have been released. It’s a place where you can further your skills and you had the opportunity of doing it abroad, so I was keen because Spanish football has always been attractive to myself. Plus where I grew up it was all about possession and can we keep the ball. So it did interest me and as soon as it came up, I wanted to go for it and I am very much for development over chasing trials. I just told myself that I am going to progress and then everything else will fall into place. I made really good friends out there and once you get away from home you do start finding yourself so it was a major point in my life.”
Back to the present, you have recently joined Aldershot Town. How are you finding life with the Shots?
“I have been out of the pro game for a few years so now that I have the opportunity to step back into the game I am just embracing it with open arms. No matter how bad my days are I still have a smile on my face because I would rather be doing this than working in a school like I did in previous years. I am just really enjoying it at the moment because there is a great bunch of lads in the team, all hungry, all passionate and wanting to go further on in the game. That’s a great environment to be in.”
What made you decide to join the club?
“It was really just an opportunity that I wanted to take, last season I was at St Albans after which I got a trial and then they said that they wanted me. With it being a higher level it wasn’t something that I wanted to turn down.”
Great to see the fans have stuck by us even when things haven't gone our way. Supports been unbelievable #Shots
— Omar Beckles (@BecklesOmar) December 28, 2015
Who is the best player you have ever played against?
“I would say the most difficult person that I have had to play against was Craig Davies when he was at Brighton in a reserve game at Millwall. At the time being a young guy I felt a bit out of my depth and I found it really difficult. It was his strength and intelligence, he was pulling me all over the place, it was one hundred percent a learning curve.”
Who in the world of football do you model your game on, as a defender?
“I wouldn’t say that I have one person in particular, there are loads of people in the game that I would like to take attributes from and then have that holistic view. I have always liked John Terry as a leader at Chelsea, he has been ever-present and I also like David Beckham for how he is an ambassador for the game.”
So let’s talk about your faith, can you give us a bit of your testimony on how you came to know God?
“Well I was born into the faith and my dad was actually a pastor so I always went to church on my parent’s belief. I never really had that personal experience. After the experience of going out to Spain and then coming back I really started to ask the question of what is this life really all about, I wasn’t in the best of places personally. It was during some of my darkest times that I started to look to other things, but I was fully assured that what I believed in was the truth. I wanted to know the truth so that I could make sure I lived that way and there was also a scripture that came up which said God will not be mocked. Off of that I was left thinking that although I had always believed, I was living in a sinful life and was making steps away from the scene, I wasn’t a true Christian. As time went on my convictions just grew and now I currently to go to my dad’s church which is Love Like Ministry in Walthamstow.”
How has your life changed since becoming a Christian?
“I think the more I grew in my convictions and the more I submitted myself to God, since then I have seen the fruits of my repentance. Now that I have turned away from my old ways and I am seeking him and as scripture says ‘seek him first the Kingdom’, when you make that divine connection everything that was blocked is no longer. It is just flowing and I feel like this in every area of my life.”
Have you ever had any positive chats about God with team mates?
“You know what, it is a tender subject because everyone has their own beliefs. When it is more open it can become a bit laughable and the banter comes but I have had a few personal ones. I have had a lengthy discussion with one of the lads about my faith and what I believe in because ultimately we are told to spread the word and make disciples. So I try my best to do it as much as possible without it becoming Bible bashing because that can cause separation. I try and get a balance as much as possible.”
Ephesians 6:12 https://t.co/TjHcZyl0jn
— Omar Beckles (@BecklesOmar) November 8, 2015
Do you feel that professional footballers should be more open about their faith?
“Yeah why not, we have nothing to hide and I feel in being a believer there is no shame. In that alone you walk out with a boldness and you want everyone else to know it. You want people to have what you have got, that is how precious this relationship is. So why not, just be bold and tell people about it. It is hard because of the peer pressure because you don’t want to be distanced from your team mates but at the same time it really isn’t about fitting in. It is standing up for the right reasons, for the greater reason, which is God given blessing to be playing football. ”
What Christian music do you like to listen to?
“To be fair I don’t have a specific genre that I listen to, I am very open to all music full stop. I have been to the Hillsong conference and I loved their type of worship, plus I have been brought up in a Pentecostal church so I grew up on that. I am just really open to any music, especially if it is for God.”