In this interview, Joel Mensah, defender at Baiteze FC talks on the quality Baiteze have compared to other teams and how important the Baiteze family are to the success they achieve on the pitch. He also sheds light on the strength in depth as well as the quality of the team.
Joel Mensah is one of the ‘Baiteze originals’, often seen as the funny man in the group, his energy off the pitch is a testament to the success Baiteze achieve on the pitch. He recalls the development of Baiteze by saying,
“When I first agreed to join, I just wanted to play football with the ‘mandem’…Then when sponsors started coming in and were taking interest I was surprised in a good way”. He goes on to say, “If I am honest, I never thought we would get this far”.
These are honest words and just go on to emphasise the success and accolades Baiteze as an organisation deserve, in creating a platform that has given them fans, a home ground and sponsorships, the dream of any footballer from East London.
“The sponsorships and investments from New Balance has been incredible and has provided opportunities like going to see the Liverpool team which is crazy.”
This shows me that companies are looking more than ever to invest in young, positive football clubs such as Baiteze. You can live the dream without playing Premier League football per say. Sponsorships like the New Balance partnership and the Puma collaboration with SE Dons, highlight the impact of grassroots football and the fact that it is getting noticed.
“If I’m honest though there was varying adjustment periods to this fame for different players and it was difficult for some to adjust”.
This is understandable as no one could have ever imagined the impact grassroots football is having today and Joel says that the key to being humble is “remaining disciplined and remembering where you have come from.”
These are wise words from a guy who fans might love for his quirkiness on camera and his entertaining commentary in videos but when you meet the man you understand that his personality is not one dimensional and there is a seriousness which makes you understand how Baiteze as a whole are able to take their football seriously but off the pitch still provide entertainment for their fans.
Joel says, “I want to inspire people to do better, be creative and think outside the box as there is so much you can do with your life than being on the roads.”
The reason he can be so positive and offer words of advice is because of what Baiteze have been able to achieve and become. He says, “We are entertainment, not just a football club, pure vibes, authentic, nothing scripted [and that is what sets us apart from the rest of the YouTube scene].”
In terms of his opinions of other teams he says after being pushed for an answer, the only team he thinks that can compete with Baiteze are “Rising Ballers (RB)”. This is a recurring answer, and it highlights what the guys at RB are doing and how successful they are viewed in the eyes of their competitors.
Despite this, he continuously sings the praises of Baiteze and how strong they are due to the squad depth. He highlights the number of injuries they have to first team players, yet they are still able to field a strong team underlining the strength of their team.
Despite admitting he does not watch every other YouTube team out there he affirms that “Theo (midfielder), Imed (midfielder), Wynter (defender) and Banton (attacker) start for every other team and that’s facts”.
In addition, he reveals the difference between former manager and now the manager of Mile End Baiteze Justin Gardner and current manager Billy Hession.
“Justin is a lot more hardcore, straight up, tell you to your face kind of guy and I don’t/never really had a problem with that style whilst Billy is the opposite as he puts his arm around you and offers advice”. He goes on to add that he believes the team responds better to the arm around the shoulder however it is an individual-by-individual basis.
Ultimately, Joel is of the belief that Baiteze are on their way to the undisputed top and why should we doubt them? They have proven time and time again that they have the ability to entertain whilst getting their business done which is why they deserve respect.
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