New Daggers striker believes he can make his mark
Jon-Jo Bates vows to break into the Dagenham first team and score the goals to secure survival.
NEW Dagenham & Redbridge signing Jon-Jo Bates is confident he can cope with the step up to league football and score the goals to keep his side in League One.
The 19-year-old has bypassed five steps of the football pyramid after joining John Still’s side from Zamaretto League Division One Central club Bedfont Town, where he made 32 appearances and scored four goals from midfield.
But the youngster, who has signed an 18-month deal at Victoria Road, is not daunted by the task he faces with his new employers.
“I can score goals at this level, definitely,” he said adamantly.
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“I was really nervous on my first day at training, but I knew I needed to impress.
“Everyone’s been really welcoming and helpful if I’ve done something wrong, as they know I’ve come from non-league football.
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“I’m starting to build my fitness up, as I’m training every day now. It will probably take me about two weeks to reach Dagenham’s level.
“I played in a practice game against Charlton and lasted 77 minutes and I felt okay after that, so I don’t think I’m too far away.”
Bates will wear the number 38 shirt for the Daggers and has been signed predominantly as a striker, but can also play anywhere across the midfield.
He was first spotted by a scout who saw Bedfont play Burnham and after being invited to Victoria Road on trial, Bates snubbed moves to Wrexham and Kidderminster to join up with the League One club.
“I heard about interest from Wrexham and Kidderminster, but Dagenham are a league club and John Still gave me the chance to be a professional footballer. Who could say no to that?” he said.
“I can play on the right or the left. I played in the centre of midfield alongside my Dad, Jon-Barrie, at Bedfont and Dagenham have signed me as a striker. I’m an attacking player and I am happy to play anywhere, I don’t really have a preferred position at the moment, I just want to play.”
Bates’ move is made all the more remarkable as he only started playing football three years ago.
At the age of 16 he was persuaded by his Dad to take up the game and joined Hounslow Borough, before moving to Bedfont and was dual registered with Hendon of the Ryman Premier Division.
The starlet had begun making plans for a career as an electrician and despite having to stop his level two City & Guilds course, is determined to go back and finish his qualification.
“I started playing when I was 16, I never played for the school team or anything like that. I didn’t really like football, so my dream was never to be a professional footballer,” he explained.
“Both my uncles are in the film game, one is an electrician and the other is a rigger. I did work experience with them and I was at college doing a course to qualify as an Electrician.
“I had to go in and tell them I couldn’t finish it, but they’ve been pretty good and I should be able to go back at some point and finish it in the evenings.”