Signing for the club in March, Bermuda’s Osagi Bascome got a significant glimpse of life in the National League North at the end of last season with Darlington. The attacking midfielder/forward has spent time in the respective academy set-ups of Aston Villa, Levante, Valencia, Bristol City and Stoke City, as well as featuring for Massanassa in Spain. The 21-year-old was a player Darlington finance director John Woolnough, a Darlo native who joined the club in February, was well aware of, having previously lived in (and even played cricket for) Bermuda himself.
Returning fresh from the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, he was part of the Bermuda side that competed well in the group, beating Nicaragua 2-0 in Harrison, New Jersey. He returns to the Quakers with a new manager on board in Alun Armstrong, with hopes high for an enjoyable season.
You’re not new to England of course, but joining Darlington last season, what has the adaptation been like for you, on and off the pitch?
I think the adaptation mostly was just getting used to the style of play, because I was used to playing a certain way but I kind of had to adapt. I just think the tempo really, not just the physicality part. The tempo is much quicker, you have less time on the ball, people are getting stuck in a lot, using their body better. The players have fully grown into their body so you have to be quick on the ball. I think I’m adapting well, getting my body ready for the league, for the upcoming season, so that was the main adaptation. I’m by the countryside and I’m enjoying it; it’s keeping me focused. I’ve always been by myself so it’s nothing new.
You had a busy summer with Bermuda at the Gold Cup, playing your group games in Costa Rica, Texas and New Jersey. Where were you based and what was the set-up like?
Yeah, like you said, we had three games spread around the United States and also Costa Rica. We were staying in top-class hotels and it was a great experience, playing in such a high-level tournament like that. We did ourselves proud. I thought I had quite a good tournament; got second for most assists, so I thought I did pretty well. For the nation, I thought we did ourselves and the country proud.
There’s the likes of (Burnley’s) Nahki Wells and (Oxford United’s) Jonté Smith, and various players from different leagues over here in the Bermuda squad. What kind of group is it to be part of and are there any great friends you have in particular in the team?
I think the best part is most of us know each other outside of football. We’re very much close friends so when we get on the pitch it’s much easier. This generation is special in the way that we have a lot of players playing outside of Bermuda and in good environments. Jahquil Hill – he’s playing right now with Hereford and I’ve known him my whole life – Reggie Lambe (Cambridge United), there’s quite a few. I’ve known most of them a long, long time.
How is that team dynamic different to a club dressing room? Is there anything you do together with the national team that doesn’t happen really at the clubs you’ve been at?
Yeah I think it’s just a bit different because you know what you’re representing; where you’re from and all the pride. It’s a bit different in that sense, and for me because I’ve grown up with a lot of these players. We’re friends off the field so it’s a bit different, our relationship, when it comes to our country.
You wore number 13 in the Gold Cup, which is less typical of an outfield player. Is there any reason behind it?
Yeah that was my best friend’s number who played in the Under-20s with me – Mazhye Burchall. Sadly, he passed away in a motorbike accident, so I just try to tribute that number to him.
You’ve also got Kyle Lightbourne in charge of the team, who plenty will remember from the likes of Walsall and Stoke City. What is he like to work with, is he laid-back, intense?
I think he’s probably been one of the biggest parts of my development in the national squad. He’s put a lot of trust in me, especially at a young age, playing for the senior team. He was my coach for the Under-20s as well. I think he’s a very good ‘player’ manager; he knows how to manage each player differently. He knows what things he can say to certain players to get a reaction out of them. He’s very good tactically as well, but I think his main attribute is definitely player managing.
Whereabouts in Bermuda was it you grew up and what kind of environment and community was it to live in?
I grew up in a part called St. George’s; it’s on the east side of the island. I grew up with four brothers, so I was always active, playing sports. I played a lot of cricket growing up and when I first moved to England as well, for a local team, Handsworth, in Birmingham. I thought I was a bit better at football so I just stuck with that. I was always around sport, though, and my brothers played cricket as well. Bermuda’s so small and being from St. George’s, everybody knows everybody; you know your neighbour’s neighbour and everybody in the community. It was very peaceful and I had a lot of friends, growing up.
You’ve also had time as a young player in Spain, what did being there teach you, football-wise and culturally?
I think going to Spain had a big impact on my life, especially the style of football there; they like to play and I think it suited me very good. I just got very unlucky, had a few injuries, so I got a few setbacks. I just thought it was time for a change, a change of scenery, so I decided to come over to England.
With Alun Armstrong coming in this summer as manager at Darlo, has he spoken much to you one-on-one so far, or given an indication of how he sees you in his plans?
We haven’t really spoke on that level but he’s been giving me some good advice on things I need to be working on, especially off the ball, just to adapt to this league. So he’s just been giving me a lot of things I need to be working on for the upcoming season.
How do you feel right now, with the season fast approaching? Is it ‘I’ve got a lot more still to show Darlington fans and I can’t wait to start the season,’ or more relaxed than that?
I’m very relaxed but I do want to have a good season under my belt and show my ability, show my worth and what I’m capable of. So I just hope it’s an exciting season, especially for the fans, because they deserve it.
Aside from playing and training, resting and recovering, what else do you enjoy doing?
Mostly it’s just relaxation. Just chill out and probably play a bit of PlayStation, just to get my mind out of football for a bit, because sometimes you need to just relax and take some time off.
Interview by @chris_brookes