Updated: Jan 14
Jamaican born Abevia McDonald has signed a one year contract with English League One outfit London Skolars. Abevia signed a first team contract contract with the Skolars in 2019 but like all other players in League One or the Championship, saw no action due to Covid in 2020.
Abevia first started playing rugby league at Excelsior Community College in late 2013. At EXED he was an avid football player. His chance in League came when he observed coach Roy Calvert and members of the college team training and in his own words:
"I had an instant fascination with the shape of the ball."
He was further encouraged by members of the team to try the sport due to his athletic built and blistering speed. Before long he was an integral part of the team and blazed his way to 8 tries in 10 games during the January to April window of the Intercollegiate Championship.
In the 2014-2015 college season he grabbed 8 tries in 7 games and kicked 19 conversions to help secure 3rd place for his college team. He also played club rugby league for local teams National Club Championship teams Liguanea Dragons and Duhaney Park Redsharks and also saw action for Division two outfit Kingston Central Hounds.
Abevia's last game in Jamaica was in 2018 when he helped the Redsharks to another National Club title. That same year he migrated to England and had an immediate impact when he made the Skolars reserve team. In 2019 he signed a first team contract with the Skolars where he played in a preseason warm up game, even scoring against Super League outfit Wigan Warriors in a pre season game. He appeared for the Reserve team throughout the rest of the season, notching over a dozen tries.
Jamaica National Head Coach Romeo Monteith believes the winger can be an inspiration for the local game after becoming the second domestic player to sign a professional contract. Nathan "The Beast" Campbell being the first after signing for Toronto Wolfpack in 2016.
"His journey is yet another example of inspiration for the local rugby league community. We know that some domestic players have the ability to crack semi-pro teams in the UK if afforded the opportunity. We have and have had some quality players come through our local systems. He impressed me from the first time I saw him play, he has blistering speed and it's good to see him stick with the game and push on to where he is today."
Abevia acknowledges that there was work to be done to move up from a strictly amateur environment to a semi-pro one.
"It was a big step for me coming from my homeland where I had incredible coaches who helped develop my skills, to immediately playing in a semi-pro environment in England.
It was hard for me at the beginning but I always had the intention to prove myself and represent well. I feel proud to be here representing not only Skolars but the Jamaican flag. I want the players back home to know that nothing is impossible.
The experience has been life changing and I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by the Skolars and I hope continue to better myself and improve as a person."