By Patrick Gibson
Photo Credits: Atlético Ottawa
Following a successful development spell last season, and a sojourn to Madrid with the team in pre-season, Omar Darwish has once again been signed to a Development contract by Atletico Ottawa.
Through the first 3 months of the 2023 campaign, Darwish has been featuring for the OSU Atletico in Ligue1 Québec. This contract comes off the back of a performance against FC Laval where Darwish managed to score his first senior goal in a 4-3 defeat.
The 18-year-old from Kanata plays primarily as a defensive midfielder, though his coaches have allowed him to roam as he sees fit within the OSU system. In the previous game mentioned above, Darwish was also tasked with filling in at left back towards the end of the second half to accommodate an injury to OSU Atletico captain and former Atletico Ottawa player Miles Cornwall. There he made a crucial, crunching tackle on a goal-bound Laval striker to prevent, for the time being, OSU from falling behind once more.
These tackles are a key part of Darwish’s game, as his determination is fueled by his presence on and off the ball. At the L1QC level, it’s impressive to see such a young player be willing to take command of the game when required and take it upon himself to leave an impact both offensively and defensively.
This is all to say that I don’t expect Omar to be hitting the ground running as a contributor to this team. He is, after all, on a development contract and is only permitted to feature in 3 games before that contract expires. Further, he’s only 18 years old and only features at the senior level for the first time this season. Darwish is still very raw as a prospect and will need game time to find the polish required to step into the professional setup.
As a result, I expect him to continue to play with OSU as he trains with the first team and absorbs all of the abundant knowledge, particularly with new signing Alberto Zapater coming into the fold and playing the same position.
Regardless, this is a positive development for the club. Maintaining continuity with players on the verge of becoming professionals is essential to the long-term development of the club’s presence in the city. Between Omar Darwish and the signing of Tyr Walker to the first team this season, there is a renewed commitment to ensuring local talent remains local after some talented individuals slipped through the cracks. Besides that, the ability for young players to put what they learn in training into practice at a senior level is essential to their long-term development, and Darwish's experience in his previous spells will only carry further.
There are plenty of young players in this city with dreams of becoming professionals at the game we all love, and with the pathway being laid out by the professional side in the city, that level of aspiration will only grow and facilitate the further connection of the club to the people of Ottawa.
Having joined CCSG in 2022, Patrick started his footie career playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros around the same time. While the first pro team he supported was Manchester United, as soon as Atlético Ottawa came to town, he was immediately on board. His wealth of footie knowledge has been a constant asset, along with his role as caretaker for Atléti Wikipedia pages.