Little Ogilvie a giant talent for Panama

  • Jair Ogilvie stands just 4ft 6ins tall

  • The 18-year-old is dazzling at the Youth Olympics

  • He only switched to futsal two months ago

It is pretty hard to miss Jair Ogilvie, with his baby-face looks, prominent cheekbones, slim build and very short stature. In fact, the Panamanian is the shortest of the 100 players participating in the Men’s Futsal Tournament at the 2018 Youth Olympic in Buenos Aires. Small in stature he may well be, but his talent is nothing short of colossal.

At 1.42m (4’6) and just 45kg, it has been impressive watching him go up against the Slovakian and Iraqi defenders, some of whom tower over him by 40cm. Impressive, that is, to everyone but him.

“I don’t believe you have to be a certain build to go up against another player. Instead you just need courage, spirit and strength. You don’t need to have a set physique to be a good footballer,” he told with a degree of self-assurance that is contagious.

Unsurprisingly, Ogilvie possesses all three of the aforementioned traits. He has admirable ball control and a gift for slipping past defenders. One moment he is there, the next he is gone. You can even find him as the last defender, marking an opposition pivot who is built like a tank. One on one, he more than holds his own, using both his body and that of his rival to maximum effect.

He began playing football at the age of seven, all thanks to his family. In 2015, aged 16, he was undergoing hormonal treatment, similar to that given to Lionel Messi, to deal with his growth problems when an opportunity he had long been dreaming of arose: the chance to attend a Chelsea FC Foundation summer camp in Malaga, Spain.

Attending would mean cutting short his course of treatment which, once interrupted, could not be restarted. In the end he went and, despite not being retained by the London club and having to end his treatment, he has no regrets.

“It was the will of God and his plan for me. I can do nothing about it,” he said in an upbeat tone.

Meanwhile, at Buenos Aires 2018, he has netted twice in three games and become a firm fans' favourite. A remarkable feat, considering he only started playing futsal two months ago. “My background is in 11-a-side but when I tried futsal I really liked it. If I can grow as a player through futsal, then I’ll seize that opportunity.”

The Panamanian Football Federation scouted all over the country to find potential players for these Games. Jair was first shortlisted and then included in the final squad of 10. From the very start, he was determined to learn and improve.

“I watched videos of games to educate myself. I studied Ricardinho and the world’s other great players so I’d know what to do in different situations during games.”

Until very recently, his ultimate dream was to “play for Real Madrid”, although at 18 it is not certainly too late to change your mind. Expanding his options a bit more, he signed off by telling us: “… or for Inter Movistar (a prominent futsal team). My dream is to play in Europe – be it football or futsal.”