Most footballers in the Cayman Islands bounce from one team to another, especially if they are good. Not Jetena Bodden, though, a Scholars International midfielder for nine years.
The 20-year-old West Bayer shows a loyalty not usually associated with national team members nor players as gifted as she is who are never short of tempting offers from other teams.
“I have every intention in continuing my soccer career with Scholars,” Bodden declares, although she started off with the other West Bay clubs, Future and Elite.
Scholars lost to Sunset in the women’s season opener, the Charity Shield, a couple of weeks ago.
Bodden was captain and “very disappointed” because she thought Scholars played “the better ball game.”
She has a point. Scholars probably created more chances in a match Sunset won 2-1 in extra time. Bodden scored the Scholars goal from a penalty, but another penalty awarded to Scholars was saved by Sunset keeper Jovani Hessing. Martha Hall finished deftly for Sunset with two well taken strikes.
“We executed many plays but failed to put the ball in the back of the net,” Bodden said. “I think we could have utilized our chances more effectively.”
She played defensive midfield against Sunset which has been her position for two years, but her preferred choice is attacking midfield. Wherever Bodden plays, that sweet left foot usually controls the tempo and flow around her.
Besides Bodden, the key Scholars include Shanai Allen, Susani Lucas, Brittany Bodden, Deondra Kelly, Marissa McLaughlin and goalkeeper Kristina Seymour. Former captain Kaela Ebanks is away at college in the U.S., as is prolific goal striker Tatiana Ramoon and the midfielder Ariella Smith.
Bodden was hooked on football from 9 years old at John A. Cumber Primary School. Since then, she has played extensively locally and internationally and loved every minute.
“One of my favorite highlights would be scoring in 43 seconds against Dominican Republic with the Under-17 girls national team.”
The camaraderie at Scholars is what Bodden loves best. “You always know that you will have people pushing you to higher levels and competing with you to make you stronger. Scholars is my family.”
Sunset have dominated women’s football in recent seasons, but Bodden feels Scholars are closing the gap. Statistics also suggest that.
“We’ve been in the run with Sunset for the past three years, going to almost every final for FA Cup and President’s Cup but not coming out successful,” Bodden said.
“I hope that we are finally able to realize what weaknesses need to be worked on, strengthen them and then put them into play and dominate whoever we face.”
A realistic sporting ambition that she has not already achieved is winning the league, FA Cup or President’s Cup back to back. Scholars won the FA Cup last term, maybe they can hold onto to it this campaign. “That is one goal that I look forward to achieving very soon, possibly this season.”
For someone barely out of her teens, Bodden’s football resume is an impressive one.
She has played with the U-17, U-20 and senior women’s national teams against teams such as Haiti, U.S., Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and many other countries. At club level she has also coached Scholars U-15 girls.
Her work ethic shines in her professional life too. She is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business as well as working full-time at EFG Bank.
Bodden played college soccer for two years for South Georgia State Lady Hawks where she received Honorable Mention All Georgia (10 goals, 5 assists) and First Team All-Region as a defender.
She also captained the Lady Hawks in her second year and received her associate degree from South Georgia State.
Of the state of Cayman football, she feels “there are still a lot of improvements to be made.”
She added, “I like the fact that the Cayman Islands Football Association has moved the women’s and men’s premier leagues to both play on Sundays even though this causes us to have to travel further.
“Football here has changed drastically over the years, especially for women and girls.”
When Bodden first started playing league football, she thinks there were more women’s teams and youth teams for girls, but that number is smaller now “because the women and girls do not receive the equal amount of support as the men and boys.”