Kelly stands tall as girls bid for World Cup glory

Cayman Islands number one National Girls Under 17 football goal keeper Emily Kelly is so dependable in the lineup for the playoffs between the Cayman Islands and the Dominican Republic.

They are playing for a place in the next stage of the Caribbean Football Union World Cup Qualifiers on Saturday in Santo Domingo and leave Cayman tomorrow.

Kelly, 15, who is a student of the Kimball Union Academy, a private Prep School in New Hampshire, New England, was here last week with the team to continue their preparations for this event. The second leg will be in George Town in a couple of weeks.

The six footer was met at the airport by Minister of Sports Mark Scotland, representatives from the CIFA and friends and family.

Kelly who is also the top keeper for her club team, Women United, represented the Cayman Islands in Haiti during the CFU tournament there last month and was voted most valuable player of the tournament.

She played superbly, conceding only two goals and helped her team to beat Bahamas 2-1, British Virgin Islands 13-0 only to be edged out 1-0 by group winner Haiti in their encounter on the last day of the tournament in the Sylvia Cator Stadium in Port AU Prince before a crowd of over 20,000.

According to head coach Bobby McLaren Kelly’s position with the team during the next phase of this tournament is of great significance.

‘Her role now and in going forward is extremely vital within the team not only as a goal keeper but as a positive and reassuring influence to her peers to enhance their overall confidence and performance as a team,’ McLaren said.

‘The Cayman Islands should be grateful that they have been blessed with a keeper of this calibere who is one of the best in the Caribbean.

‘Emily has always been a determining factor in the success of women’s football on the Cayman Islands. Basically the National Under-17 team without Emily Kelly is good but with her it is awesome.

‘Her team-mates have tremendous confidence in her and this aspect of the tournament is crucial as the Cayman Islands has to get past Dominican Republic to get to the next phase set to be staged in Costa Rica next year.’

Kelly said: ‘I felt good to have experienced how my team stepped up to the plate and performed so exceptional while coping with the crowd of spectators in Haiti, knowing that we are not accustomed to playing before so much people.

‘The people there were awesome and it was a great experience to see how other people support football with all their hearts in a foreign country.

‘This phase of the tournament is behind us now, we just have to regroup and train hard to face the Dominican Republic, get past them and go on from there.

‘My team-mates are like my sisters, we have been playing together for a while now and we have bonded.

‘We get a lot of support from our coaches, our families and supporters. This has motivated us to work harder together to become a team to reckon with. We are determined and ready to continue to make our country proud.’

Kelly with the assistance of keeper coach Paul Campbell, her outstanding performances as a keeper and her excellent grades at St Ignatius High School received a scholarship worth $43,000 to attend the Kimball Union Academy, a private Prep School in New Hampshire.

She aspires to pursuing top grades at the Academy while also excelling on the football field.