Charlton academy footballer Joseph Ladapo is determined not to let the coronavirus pandemic derail his mission to secure a professional contract at the club, writes Emmanuel Ladapo.

The coronavirus period has completely shaken the football world, from no fans to delays of competitions and several players having to self-isolate due to catching the virus.

But in an exclusive interview with UoB Today, 16-year-old striker Joseph talked about how the coronavirus period had affected what is going on at the club as well as the challenges he is still facing with trying to get a professional contract at the club.

Joseph Ladapo in action for Charlton Athletic

Joseph explained how the pandemic has affected training sessions and matches.

“There has been rescheduling of matches but aside from that it’s been business as usual,” he said. “We just have to follow guidelines in social distancing.”

Joseph is unsure whether the financial implications of the virus on the club may have a detrimental affect on his chances of turning pro.

He said: “There isn’t a direct order in how to get a professional contract, it’s up the my coach and the decision makers at senior level to decide who gets the professional contract and when.

“I’m not sure how much is out there about the financial situation at the club given the fact that Charlton is a League One side and whether that affects how much money they are willing to give out in a contract and how many.

“The money I am earning now has not been affected and neither have any players in this squad due to financial issues.”

Joseph gained his scholarship earlier this year and thus has now become a member of the U18 side, at this stage it is a pivotal time because from now he is eligible to earn a professional contract which is the ultimate goal for any footballer at this stage in his career.

“It may sound boring but you just have to keep your head down,” he explained. “Focus on your game from week to week and not to think about it too much and put yourself under so much pressure even if there is.

“It is something that I want very much, it’s my dream to be a football player so you’ve got to control that feeling, let it motivate but not play on your mind so much to the point where it negatively affects my game, you still have to be a team player.

“I am only 16 so I have still two or three years before the average player usually makes their professional debut. Few actually get that at 16 so I still have time to just focus on my game.”

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