We caught up with the teenage colossus following his return to his parent club to reflect on his time with the JDWPL champions TNS.
“I’m hugely grateful for everything that TNS did for me during my time there, and I’m so glad Swansea let me go out and have this experience – it has been brilliant for me, I’ve learnt a lot and now I’m focussed on getting into Swansea’s first team.”
As an 18-year-old going on loan to a club far from home, it was a huge challenge for Cabango to take on, but according to those at TNS he has done so with real enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn, and reaped the rewards.
One of many youngsters with a Football League background to grab their opportunity in the JDWPL this year, Cabango spoke of how he feels he’s been given the opportunity to showcase his talent in the league this season.
“I think the JDWPL really does give young players an opportunity, whether they’re at Football League clubs and on loan or whether they’re looking to reach that level, to show what they can do and to learn a lot about the game at a young age.
“Not many people would go out on loan so early like I have done, but I hope more will do the same as I have done and go to the JDWPL because it has really improved me massively and it has given me a real insight into the game, and it’s a good pathway to first team football as well.
“I definitely think it is a fantastic opportunity for young players, I’ve learnt so much and the game at men’s level is so different from the 23s level where the focus is mostly on development, whereas my experiences in senior football have been all about the three points.”
The six months since Cabango joined Scott Ruscoe’s side has flown by, with the defender notching over 20 appearances for the champions during his time at Park Hall.
The 18-year-old was thrust straight into the action on the European level for Ruscoe’s champions, and the defender admits it was difficult to fully appreciate those incredible experiences at the time, whilst reflecting on his learning with the club.
“My time in the JD Welsh Premier League went so quickly, but it was a fantastic experience. Starting off my time with TNS in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League was amazing, not many players get to play in those competitions – especially at such a young age, so that was a wicked experience.
“I don’t think what I experienced in those early weeks really sunk in at the time, because when you’re travelling and training and everything like that you don’t get time to think about it, but then looking back on it now I loved every minute of it and I want to compete at that level again.
“The first game in the league I found quite difficult … it is different to Under-23s football because by moving to senior football you’re in an environment where winning is all that matters, no matter your style of play.
“I learnt a lot of lessons in that first game, as I hadn’t come up against a team like that before either, and my biggest learning curve started there really, because we lost too which isn’t something TNS is used to, so I definitely learnt a lot early.”
In short, for an 18-year-old taking his first steps into the world of senior football, things have gone pretty well in the last few months, and Cabango admits as much.
He credits the competitiveness of the league, the camaraderie shown by his teammates and the experience of moving from home as having helped him mature in all aspects of his life.
“I didn’t really know what to expect from the league, to be fair. I knew a lot about the league, I had heard a lot about it, but I didn’t know too much about the teams in detail and how they played and so on, and the competitiveness and the standard was so high.
“Every team we played wanted to beat us so much, they were putting everything on the line, wherever we went teams were putting everything on the line to beat us and that was a real challenge.
“The whole squad was great with me, they’d all help me through the good games I had and the not so good ones, giving me little bits of advice and helping me continue to get better.
“I don’t think the last few months could have gone any better for me, really. I’ve matured so much, having to move away as an 18-year-old – with no family around and things like that, I’ve grown up a lot, even with stuff like cooking and everything because I’ve never had to do that before, really, but the experience helped me grow as much off the pitch as it has on it.”
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