Elite Sports Club has some of the youngest – and tiniest – players in the women’s football league and one of them is the exceptionally talented Shannelle Bennett.
Only 14, she has a long way to go before peaking, yet she is already so good that a glittering career at the highest level looks extremely likely.
Even Martha Hall, the veteran Sunset striker, was impressed with Bennett when she faced her last week in a match Sunset won comfortably 3-0. Bennett’s all-round ability and work ethic shone through. She was outstanding for the West Bay side, along with defender Jessica Ebanks and midfield maestro Shenel Gall. Other senior players Bennett learns from include Lanie McLaughlin, Tyanna Jan and Yesenia Prado.
Bennett attends Cayman Academy School and the Year 10 pupil gets an A-star for her football ability. As well as Elite’s women’s side, she also plays in the Under-17 and U-15 teams, usually in defense and sometimes as a forward.
Bennett has been with Elite for the last three years. Starting in the youth league, her skills were immediately apparent and not long after seeing her potential she was drafted into the women’s league as well. She has also played for Cayman’s national youth team.
Bennett has a strong family background in football and she naturally took a liking to the game and sports in general. Extremely versatile, her best position is left back and sometimes forward, although she was in midfield against Sunset.
Her parents Edd and Orla are immensely proud. They said Shannelle’s age and size do not interfere with her performance and she is a very brave young lady who goes out and gives her best for her team.
Her parents feel that her mental and physical strength boosts her confidence gained over the years with the support of her coaches Martha Godet and Gregory Ebanks.
Football, Bennett says, teaches her discipline and keeps her in a healthy environment and she loves to represent her country.
“One thing I like about football is that no matter how hard life seems, if you strive hard enough you can achieve great things,” she said.
“Also, it’s just an amazing sport to watch and play. When I’m on that field I put my heart and soul into the game and forget about everything else.”
Bennett is inspired by Alex Morgan, the celebrated USA woman player, and Lionel Messi because of the struggles they faced to reach where they are now. A Barcelona fan, she is inspired not just by Messi, but the array of aces that don their colors.
“Some day I wish to become just as good as them and in the future represent my country,” she said.
“They have taught me that with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything in life – and to always do the best I can. They always say: winners never quit and quitters never win.” This season Bennett would like her team to win the league, although Sunset are the overwhelming favorites to do so. “We will put all the effort it takes to do so,” she said.
She also plays netball and volleyball and represents Cayman Academy in both.
Her immediate ambition is to gain a full scholarship in football to help further her education and eventually play at pro level.
Bennett added, “I would like to thank my Elite teammates for being there for the younger ones like me, to have someone to look up to and for working together as a team.
“I also thank Martha Godet and Gregory Ebanks for their time and dedication with the youth.
“Apart from them taking their time to train us, they also work very hard in taking us overseas to train when we are in summer break, and also for teaching us to always put God first in our lives, even when losing a game, we still thank God.”