IT’S his first season playing Premier League of Ireland football.
His first game will be in Turner’s Cross, but for Leeside lad Jaze Kabia, he will play against his home club Cork City as he lines out for Shels, a game in which he hopes to play a huge part.
The 19-year-old striker moved to Shels midway through last season and since has enjoyed a memorable experience, winning the First Division and contributing six goals for the Dublin side.
The former College Corinthians and Douglas Hall schoolboy started his League of Ireland career at Cobh Ramblers before moving to Shels — a club where he feels he has hugely developed as a player.
“It has been a great experience so far at Shels,” said Kabia.
“Playing in front of thousands of people week-in week-out is great. So far, I feel like I have developed leaps and bounds at the club, and I have plenty more room for improvement.
“There are great coaches at the club as well as the manager who has helped me so much, and long may that continue, hopefully.
“Winning the league was an unexplainable experience, especially for a club like Shelbourne — who are such a big club in this country — to be not only champions, but back where it belongs, is great.
“It really meant so much to everybody at the club, and I was delighted to have played my part.”
He started off his career in College Corinthians at the age of five.
“I played with Corinthians until I was about 15 winning a lot of league titles and local cups. I then crossed the road to Douglas Hall and it was a slightly different experience.
“We didn’t win as much but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there where I developed massively as a player. Everybody was great at the club and I loved every minute of it. Then from Douglas Hall I moved to Cobh.
At Cobh I was fortunate enough to go from U17 level straight to the first team. This played a huge part in my development playing first-team football from such a young age.
“It allowed me to make a name for myself and fortunately I was noticed and got a move up to Shelbourne.
“Luckily I was fortunate enough to have won the First Division title in my first season at the club, which was an unbelievable experience.”
The Grange man, who played underage GAA with Douglas alongside Norwich striker Adam Idah, has enjoyed a massive start to his League of Ireland career, but he now knows the hard part is yet to come. Playing in the premier division will be a different experience but a challenge in which he is really looking forward to.
“Playing Premier will be another step up and I’m looking forward to another challenge. Of course there’s a lot of quality teams in the league it’s not going to be a walk in the park but we are more than ready for it. There’s also a lot of quality players who I am looking forward to testing myself against this season. I’m just going to keep working hard and hopefully cement a starting place on the team.”
Kabia, the son of former Cork City player Jason Kabia, has always looked like a promising talent and with the huge support of his mum Noelle and dad Jason, he was always encouraged to chase his dream and playing at this level is certainly where he wanted to be.
Excited about the current squad, Kabia believes they have the perfect blend of youth and experience in the squad to compete in the Premier division.
“I think we have a perfect mix between youth and experience in the team this season. We have a quality squad every player is up for the challenge. It’s a long season which everybody will be included throughout the season, where some players will be best suited to certain types of games.
“The new players who have come in have been great and have settled in very quickly which is great to see. We have brought in a lot of different style players so there is various things strengths of theirs that they will bring to the team no doubt.
“My main aim for the season would be to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up. I’d also like to replicate last season by scoring and setting up a few goals to help the team.
“I’m looking forward to our game against Cork City. It’s always nice to play in your own city in front of your family and friends. But we will approach it in the same way we would approach any game. It will be a tough game but every game in this division will be tough and we know Neal Fenn will have the lads well organised.
“Pre-season has been good so far, it’s never easy but we are getting back into the swing of things now. We have played two pre-season friendlies so far and there has been a lot of positives to take from the games. Everybody is happy with the way we are progressing at the minute.
“We are training four days a week including a match. It’s my first time training full time everyday so I am enjoying it a lot. This year I will be living in Dublin as I am finished school. The club have been great to me and have offered me many career paths which I am still taking into consideration. So I am very pleased at the moment.
“Everyone up here at the club have been fantastic since I moved. Right now I couldn’t ask for anymore and my focus is to learn from the manager and experienced players around me and do my best for this club.”