Stoke Gifford resident Joseph Budd recently made his debut for the Welsh U17 football team at an international tournament in Portugal.
Joe, who is 16 and attends Abbeywood Community School, started playing football when he was just five years old. He used to attend ‘soccer camps’ during the summer holidays and joined the Stoke Lane U7 team when he was six. As he got older and his skills developed, his coach Steve Moore took him to Bristol Rovers for a trial and he signed his first youth contract with them when he was nine.
Explaining what he loves so much about football, Joe said:
“Football keeps me fit. I enjoy training and the challenge that comes with trying to play such a physical and demanding sport. I always enjoy the challenge of testing myself against different opponents that you come up against each week and I’m always striving to get better.”
Since signing his first youth contract, Joe has gone from strength to strength and in the summer of 2018 he was called up to play for Wales U17s in the Telki Cup in Hungary. The tournament took place in September and, whilst there, he played against Croatia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Describing the experience, Joe said:
“Hungary was a fantastic experience. Although I was nervous, I was lucky that the captain was a good friend with whom I played at Rovers, and all the boys and coaches made me feel very welcome. I was still only 15 during that trip, but I qualified to play because of my year of birth. I was really happy that I made two substitute appearances and started the second game.”
As soon as Joe returned from Hungary, he was called up by Wales to attend a training camp in Newport and it was here that he was told that he had been put on the reserve list to play in the UEFA qualifiers in Portugal in October. Joe then had an agonising wait to find out if he would be going to Portugal but when the Welsh U17s coach, Rob Edwards, watched him score two goals whilst playing for Bristol Rovers U16s, he received the call saying he would be joining the rest of the squad. Joe was in Portugal for a week where he made two second-half substitute appearances and started the third game against Portugal. Joe said:
“I was so proud to start my first competitive international game, especially as my mum, dad, gran, nan and both grandads had flown out to watch me.”
Although Joe has so far achieved wonderful things in the world of football, it hasn’t come easily and he has had to work extremely hard to get to where he is. He currently trains for three hours twice a week and has another two-hour training session later in the week. He then plays his games on Saturday mornings. Because he has to spend so many hours training, he also stays late at school two days a week to catch up on any school work that he may have missed.
After his success with Wales, Bristol Rovers have now offered Joe a scholarship which will start next season. This involves training with the squad four days a week and attending college once a week with a game at the weekend. The scholarship will end after two years and Joe is hoping that he will have impressed them enough to be offered a professional contract. His dad, Matthew Budd, said:
“The whole family are extremely proud of Joe’s achievements so far. It’s not been all glory and roses for him though and they are tested physically and physiologically by the coaches. We’ve had plenty of tears over the years but the last few months have given Joe a massive boost after making his international debut with Wales and signing a scholarship with Bristol Rovers.”
Keep an eye out for the name ‘Joe Budd’ in professional football in the coming years!
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal news magazine (on page 13). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.