Teenager Astwood driven by memory of late brother

  • Photograph by Lawrence Trott

In the genes: Arnezha Astwood, the nephew of former Bermuda striker Stephen Astwood, bagged a brace on his debut for Robin Hood against Flanagan’s Onions in the Premier Division last month. The 16-year-old is the first Hood player to progress from the team’s academy to the first team

Arnezha Astwood is a young man on a mission.

The Robin Hood striker is striving to become a professional player and is hoping to fulfil an ambition which he shared with a sibling who lost his life in a traffic accident.

“The death of my older brother Shae-quan to a bike accident makes me want to make it every day because that was one of his goals as well,” Astwood said. “I play for him because I know he’s blessing me and looking down on me, so I do it for him.”

The 16-year-old Berkeley Institute student took the Premier Division by storm last month when he came off the bench to score two late goals in his first senior appearance against Flanagan’s Onions at Goose Gosling Field. It was a stunning performance that exceeded Astwood’s expectations.

“My expectation going into the match was just to get my feet wet, scoring was not the intention at all,” he said.

“It felt like I was dreaming when I scored the first goal but I was really excited after scoring my second because one more goal meant a hat-trick, which would have been unbelievable. I’m grateful with two goals and thankful for the opportunity.

“I just wish my brother [Shae-quan] could see me play at least once so I can hear what he would have to say.

“I know he is in heaven and would be proud of his little brother doing the right thing.”

Astwood started his career at PHC Zebras before venturing west to join his elder siblings Keedai and the late Shae-quan at Somerset Trojans.

For the past two years, he has been a product of Hood’s youth programme where his game continues to flourish under the direction of coach Dennis Brown.

“Arnezha has got some good potential but I don’t want him or anybody else to go overboard,” Brown said.

“He has a long way to go but is on a good road right now. He can play anywhere up the middle. He can play centre back, centre midfield or centre forward. He is that versatile.”

Astwood has also demonstrated good leadership qualities. He captained Hood’s under-15 team, who play under the name Warwick Archers, to the Knockout Cup title in their inaugural season last year.

He is the first player to progress from Hood’s youth programme to its senior team since the club’s youth programme was launched a year ago.

“That’s the primary reason why we developed a youth programme,” Brown said. “Arnezha has the potential and the overall strength and commitment to play and compete at that level so once he went 16 a few weeks ago that was the natural progression to challenge him in the senior division.”

As for Astwood’s stunning top-flight debut, Brown added: “Anywhere, whether amateur or professional, that was brilliant.

“However, one thing I told him is not to go overboard and just stay humble and hungry and learn from every game.”

Football flows through Astwood’s veins as his uncle and biggest inspiration, Stephen Astwood, is a former PHC, Trojans and Bermuda striker.

“I remember going to my uncle’s games when he played for Somerset and I said to my mother, ‘I want to be like him when I grow older’ and from that day that’s been my goal,” Astwood said. “My uncle achieved a lot in his career so I just keep striving no matter what and try to be better than him.”

Astwood’s mom, Arnell, added: “When Arnezha was around six, I asked him why he doesn’t want to play tennis or golf and why football? He told me if his uncle Stephen never played football he would have never played football and so I know that his uncle is his inspiration and his idol. He has been playing since he was three or four and his love of football is out of this world.”