FROM New Caledonia in the south-west Pacific Ocean to Rushall Olympic in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier, for Mickael Partodikromo it’s all part of his dream journey.
The battleground of Non-League football probably couldn’t seem much further away than the tropical island the 20-year-old hails from.
But he’s determined to become a professional footballer and he sees no better place to get games than with the promotion-chasing Pics.
“I used to play in France and the game is very different,” Partodikromo told The NLP. “In France it was very technical. In England it’s very physical, and everything’s 100 per cent. It’s a very different game, but I like it.
“I’m playing with some experienced players, so I’m learning every day. It’s good for me. When I was in France I was playing for a Ligue 2 club called Laval. But I was the youngest, so I didn’t get much game time.
“My agent said, ‘why don’t you try the Evo-Stik League’. I came to Rushall and I liked it. The aim for the season is to get game time, get noticed if I can, and get promoted with the team.”
Partodrikromo left his home in the French territory, which lies 750 miles east of Australia, when he was just 14 to join the Asia-Pacific Football Academy in New Zealand.
Not speaking a word of English, he studied for hours every morning and played football in the afternoon. After three months he passed his English exam and was allowed to go to school with his team-mates in the morning.
Two years later he had trials at Swansea City, Chelsea, Bolton and Sheffield United, who offered him a scholarship.
“It was very hard at the beginning because England was a new life for me,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone. After a month or two I got settled and made friends, so it was good.”
Despite training with the first team he was released by the Blades, so he went back to New Zealand and joined Team Wellington before returning to Europe last year. The contrast to New Caledonian life is big.
“The lifestyle is different,” Partodrikomo, who won a gold medal with his country in the Asia-Pacific games, said. “On a typical day you’d go to school in the morning, then in the afternoon I’d go training. Then we had to bring the food to the table for the family, so every night we’d go fishing. I’d go with my grandad, come back, do my homework and go to bed. The next day was the same again.
“The first sport over there is football. Everyone loves it. They watch French football mainly, but people watch a bit of everything.”
And he hopes one day they’re watching him on the big stage.
“Playing football has always been my dream since I was a little boy,” he said. “I want to do it for my parents and family. I want to give them something back for everything they’ve done for me.
“I also want to be an example for youngsters in my country. A lot go into drug dealing and stuff. I don’t want them to go that way.
“My family are all back home. I haven’t seen them for two years. It’s hard, but you have to do it. Hopefully the sacrifice will pay off one day.”