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Tom scores dream job with League One team

A TALENTED Selsey footballer has made his professional debut in front of almost 13,000 fans.

 

Tom Broadbent, aged 25, stepped out as defender for the Bristol Rovers on Saturday in his first League One match.

 

The match was a culmination of a lifetime’s passion for the sport. Tom acknowledged that this helped him overcome any nerves he might have encountered.

 

He said: “It was my debut match so I was excited to be there.

 

“I wasn’t nervous. There were a lot of people watching but that gave me a real buzz. Once the match kicked off I was able to block them out and just focus on the game.”

 

The Rovers met Charlton Athletic at the latter’s home ground of The Valley. Although the result was a 1-0 loss for Bristol that didn’t mar the experience for Tom.

 

“Obviously we were disappointed with the result. But it was still great. I really enjoyed it,” he said.

 

Football has always been important for Tom, who had previously played for Selsey FC, the Bognor Rocks, Pagham FC and Chichester City, but after joining the army at the age of 19, thought it would only remain a hobby.

 

He continued to play while in the forces and eventually went semi-professional two years ago.

 

Tom was playing for Hayes and Yeading  when he heard of an opportunity at the Rovers. He had to sign off from the army and give a year’s notice to try out, something that proved a risk worth taking.

 

He said: “I just thought I’m 25 now, I’ve got to take the gamble or else I’ll be kicking myself. The gamble paid off. I don’t know what I would’ve done if it hadn’t.”

 

Although he hadn’t been signed off for a whole year the army allowed him to leave early to take the position.

 

He credits his army career, some of which included touring in Afghanistan, to part of his success.

 

“The army has given me more confidence in myself and better discipline,” he said.

 

For Tom, landing the job is still an unbelievable achievement.

 

He said: “I’ve loved football since I was a kid. When I found out I’d been successful I couldn’t believe it.

 

“It was what I’d always wanted – a dream come true. It was crazy. ”

 

Although the transition to League One was daunting for Tom, he feels he adjusted easily. “It’s quite a big step up to come from Hayes and Yeading to the Bristol Rovers but I’ve settled in nicely,” he said.

 

Part of this is due to the backing of his family.

 

He said: “My family are really supportive and come to watch my games whenever they can. It’s quite a journey

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