BEGA’S Jonah Caragher is enjoying the opportunity of a lifetime.
Jonah, 16, is on a one-month trial with Portuguese soccer’s Club Sport Maritimo.
The club’s first division side plays in the Primeira Liga, currently sitting in 13th spot on the ladder.
It is coached by Carlos Jorge and players include goalkeeper Johnny Leoni, Marcio Rozario, Fabio Santos, Joao Luiz and Danilo Dias.
CS Maritimo is based in the city of Funchal, Madeira, an island just off Portugal.
2013 had already been a huge year for Jonah, who was signed by the Sydney Olympic Football Club, which plays in the NSW Premier League.
This week, Sydney Olympic also signed Jonah’s younger brother Lucas to play for the under 14s team.
Jonah, who favours playing at striker, joined Sydney Olympic three months ago for the under 15 and under 16 sides.
Sydney’s under 15s fell short of the finals, while the under 16s went on to win the premiership after Jonah left.
Jonah was offered an opportunity to temporarily join CS Maritimo by a scout who noticed his talent.
The Bega High School Year 10 student said he was really enjoying his time in Portugal.
“It’s a whole new experience compared to Australia,” Jonah said.
“The football is very different, the speed of the ball is much quicker and movement off the ball is a lot more fluent.”
An average day includes a gym session in the morning and training at night, which Jonah admits has “taken a bit to get used to”.
Jonah said he was surprised to be tested on his ability.
“Agility, balance, jumping and flexibility were amongst the tests, just to name a few,” he said.
“I was also taken back by the chemistry of the team - everyone gets along very well here.
“The language barrier has been a bit of a struggle, with the coach having to repeat himself in English after every instruction.”
Jonah arrived in Funchal around two weeks ago, but he has already seen the benefits.
“I feel as though I've already benefitted greatly from this opportunity,” he said.
“With a high intensity gym session and high intensity training, it makes a big difference.”
However, Jonah admitted that he is missing the Bega Valley.
“Being here also takes its toll mentally, being away from friends and family,” he said.
“This adds to the experience, being away from everyone for so long is teaching me a lot.”