Many times it has been said that playing sports could be the door to a university education and no where is there a better example than young Shakeina Bush, who is currently studying Civil Engineering at Florida International University in the United States, thanks to a football scholarship. Shakeina is an 18 year-old girl who at the age of seven played ‘with the boys because at the time there was no girls’ league’. She later joined Future SC U14 boys at age 11 and played with the team until the club formed a girls’ team. She continued playing with Future SC until she graduated form high school and went away to attend University, where she is currently in her second year.
Shakeina came across the opportunity to get a football scholarship thanks to Mr. Everton Edwards, who is her coach at Florida International University and who has been monitoring her since the age of 12, when she started playing with Future SC’s girls and boys’ teams. When asked about her experiences with Coach Edwards, she says, ‘Playing soccer for FIU has been a dream come true for me. Playing in Division I, the training is very intense and very game geared. Being coached by Coach Everton was a privilege and I adapted to his coaching style and methods quickly and meshed with the team very well. I had to pick up my game though because it is a much harder and faster game. It was much more intense both technically and tactically but with much patience Coach Everton has helped me understand what he wants. My only regret is that just as the game started to slow down for me I broke my leg in my first season and then I have been red-shirted this year and unable to play because of a groin tear. I want very badly to reward my coach for his faith and patience shown to me.’
On the issue of returning to Cayman Islands after graduating, Shakeina very emphatically declared,’ I do intend to come home as quickly as I can. There is no place in the world like Grand Cayman. I have adapted to university life but I have suffered from home sickness at times; my team mates have really been nice to me and this has helped. I am studying Civil Engineering and I am praying that there will be a job at home for me when I complete my studies. As for football, I do intend to play when I return home. I feel it is my duty to help the next generation of girl footballers by passing on my experiences and what Everton Edwards has been teaching me. The current national program for the U15 girls and U17 girls seems to be thriving; I could be considered a little biased but I think it was a brilliant move to put my father Bernie (Bush) in charge of this program. He will motivate these girls to play for each other and Grand Cayman to the best of their abilities.’
Her father, Bernie Bush, gushes proudly about his daughter, ‘I am very proud of her. She has done an excellent job of balancing her books and her football career. What has made me especially proud is that she has less talent than a lot of other players here in Cayman but the other players have never matched her discipline, desire and her work rate. She has also accepted her responsibility to be a role model to the young ladies of this country and that is very important. She broke her leg last year and this year she has a torn groin that she got representing Cayman, so I am hoping all of the adversity will make her even more determined when she heals and returns to the game.’
Her coach, Everton Edwards, also has words of praise for the young Caymanian player, ‘Shakeina is a very good player and she has shown lots of promise. Her transition from the pace of the game at home and the one we play here at FIU was a difficult one for her, but she handled it very well. She has been a great addition to the team and has adapted to it wonderfully. She is nursing a groin injury at the moment, which put her off for the rest of the season, but I hope to have her back training in January, playing as well as ever.’
Mr. Jeffrey Webb, CIFA’s President, expressed his delight at the chance that young Caymanian players are getting to attend college and Universities on football scholarships, ‘People like Shakeina Bush are living proof of the positive impact that football has on the youth and society. This is going to be a life-changing experience for her and for anybody who has the chance to attend university on a football scholarship. She is now regarded as an Ambassador and role model for all young Caymanians. My congratulations go to her for all her achievements’.
Finally, Shakeina thanked her coach for giving her the opportunity to pursue studies abroad.
‘Hopefully Everton who knows and cares about our Island will continue to spot and nurture talent so that more of us can get overseas to play on scholarships. Thank you very much and it is a definite honor to be recognized.’
Contact the CIFA office at 949-5775 or [email protected] for further details.