West Bay native Kaela Ebanks, one of this year’s Proud of Them award recipients, attends South Georgia State College on a partial sports scholarship while pursuing an associate degree in pre-allied health.
Ms. Ebanks, 19, has always had a keen interest in sports.
Her sporting career began in primary school, where she led her team from Sir John A. Cumber Primary to victory at the inter-primary netball championships. Later she traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to represent John Gray High School in netball. She also participated in the school’s annual swimming gala and cross-country event.
According to a press release, Ms. Ebanks’s passion is playing football. At 12, she became a member of the National U-17 Girls Football team, which was the first national team to qualify to participate in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in 2010.
In 2012, she was called to the National U-20 team to begin preparing to represent the Cayman Islands in a World Cup qualifier game.
Over the course of two years Ms. Ebanks showed great dedication to her training, which required her to travel for competition to various countries in North America, Canada, South America and the Caribbean. In 2014, she was part of the national U-20 team, representing the Cayman Islands in FIFA’s U-20 Women’s World Cup CONCACAF qualifying final stage held in Grand Cayman.
Ms. Ebanks’s success in sports earned her John Gray High School’s Female Sportsperson of the Year award in 2013. She has been participating in the local women’s league since 2010, and was Scholars FC Senior Women’s Team Captain. With her team, she qualified for the finals in the 2014 CIFA FA Cup Championships.
While Ms. Ebanks has seen much success as an athlete, she now focuses on helping other players. She recently passed the Cayman Islands Football Association’s referee course and completed FIFA’s beginners coaching course.
The West Bay teenager uses her coaching skills to train players on Scholars FC’s U-15 girls team, as well as players in the CIFA/Maples Grassroots program.
A press release notes that her success in sports is even more impressive given her congenital disorder, which affected the development of her hands and feet. She underwent several reconstructive surgeries during her early childhood. Despite the early obstacles, “she has become a shining star on the football field and is sure to help other young players achieve great success,” the press release states.
Twelve recipients of the annual National Youth Commission’s initiative were presented with certificates and $500 cash stipends by Minister of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports Osbourne Bodden at a ceremony last month.
Mr. Bodden noted that each recipient has distinguished himself or herself as an individual to be looked to for further success.
The 2017 Proud of them award recipients were chosen from more than 120 nominations. The faces and biographies of the honorees will be featured on “Proud of Them” billboards throughout Grand Cayman.