New Fleet winger Omari Sterling-James will bring added creativity to the Fleet flanks as he arrives this week from Kidderminster Harriers. Put through his paces at a club medical before signing on the dotted line, the 28-year-old Birmingham boy described his strengths in conversation to the club website.
“I’m more the sort of player to be found at the top end of the field,” he said. “I like to entertain, show a few skills, a bit of trickery and getting a few goals is obviously the one we all want to add every season. I’ve got an eye for a pass as well so I hope to bring that to the Ebbsfleet fans – but more importantly to the team to meet the ambitions of the club and the manager.”
Sterling-James was part of the Kidderminster side who went all the way to Round 4 in last season’s FA Cup and they were just seconds from beating Premier League West Ham United before they succumbed to a late Declan Rice equaliser. The new Fleet signing set up the Harriers goal from a trademark wide free-kick delivery.
“Set pieces are a strong part of my gameplay too,” said Sterling-James. “Be it free-kicks, corners, wide free-kicks. My delivery is good from those areas and I’ll look to benefit the team in that way. The manager mentioned there’s one or two in the Ebbsfleet squad with great set-piece delivery too so I just want to add to that. I’ve talked to him a little bit about that but he’s watched my games, seen a few of my goals and the set pieces I’ve taken so I’ll look to incorporate that in the team going forward this season.”
The winger has played for Mansfield Town in the EFL and before that Cheltenham, Solihull, Alvechurch and Redditch United but the move south holds no fears for him, having turned down the chance of another season at Kidderminster in favour of the Kuflink Stadium.
“When Ebbsfleet got in contact, I was instantly really open to it,” he said. “I’ve never been afraid of living away from home, there’s just never been an opportunity until now I wanted to explore at the right time in my career. After seeing how you played last season and the football you played, I was intrigued to come on board to help promotion. It was a new challenge and with the promotion factor, that’s always my main driver. That’s why I went to Kidderminster as well with that in mind, that was the main aspect for me and we were unfortunate not to do it there last season. But I’m more than ready to get it done here at Ebbsfleet now.
“And I’m used to those demands. I’ve had pressure, though I wouldn’t really call it that, of promotion ambitions last season and I had it a couple of years while I was at Mansfield as well. I’m not afraid of those demands.
“I’ve got friends and teammates who have played in the National South at different clubs so I always keep an eye on their teams and what’s going on there, I know a player at Ebbsfleet too and I like watching football in general so I knew a bit about the club before signing… obviously not as much as being in that division week in, week out, but what I’ve seen and been convinced of up to signing has been great.
“My loan in the South [at Oxford City] came when I was only 21 so I was pretty young but it was a good division as I recall. There was a lot of good football played in it and I think it’s progressed a lot more since then – but so has the North to be fair. I’ve played North and South in the same season with Oxford City and then Gloucester City so there was a bit of a difference but both divisions have progressed massively since then.”
National North and South aren’t the only destinations where Sterling-James has kicked a ball. He’s a regular international performer for Saint Kitts and Nevis and scored in a World Cup qualifier against Bahamas earlier this year. And like Kieran Monlouis (St Lucia) and before him Myles Weston and Ricky Shakes, Sterling-James will be another Fleet international who has represented the club out in the Caribbean.
“It’s something I’m really proud of,” he said. “Growing up, it’s something I cherished that both my nan and grandad were born in Saint Kitts & Nevis so when I had the opportunity to play for them it was just overwhelming. So every year I go there or every time I have a game there, I’m just happy to be out there. I was disappointed we didn’t get further or get through in the World Cup qualifiers, it would have been nice to have been involved in that but there are other international competitions to qualify for.
“We’ve got some high-quality players who play for the country as well even though it’s a small island, and quite a few based in England. Just because it’s Caribbean football and a little way away from what people are used to, they don’t know too much about it but there’s a lot of competition out there.”