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Young, talented and as good as the boys

It’s no easy feat being the only girl on a boy’s football team.

But this is not one of your average sports stories and St David’s Primary School student Leilanni Nesbeth is certainly not your average athlete as many have come to learn.

The ten-year -old Honour Roll student turned heads when she was spotted playing goalkeeper for her school’s boy’s team in the annual Primary School Boy’s Football Tournament at Shelly Bay Field.

Nesbeth more than held her own between the posts and played an integral role in helping her school reach the semi final stage of the tournament.

“One of my great moments in football was being the only girl to play in the Primary School’s Boys Football Tournament and my team making it to the semi-finals,” she said.

Nesbeth first began playing football at age four under the watchful gaze of stepfather Corey Garcia.

“I used to go practice with my step dad Corey Garcia who was the coach for St David’s senior team,” she recalled. “He would give me a ball to kick around while he trained with his team.”

The promising athlete, who wants to strive to become a PE teacher, said she plays football simply for the “thrill” of it.

“It is so exciting to beat your opponent and especially keep up to the boy’s standards,” she added.

Nesbeth said she only took to goalkeeping after everyone else on her team neglected the position.

“No one on my team would step up to the plate at a crucial game and so I took the challenge and won the game for my team,” she said. “I really enjoyed that position and it feels good when I save goals for my team.”

Nesbeth, who is the captain of her school’s girl’s football team, says her male counterparts don’t mind her playing on the same team as them as long as she can hold her end of the bargain.

“Boys don’t really mind if a girl is playing as long as she can play the game well,” she said. “I have had to prove that I am just as talented when playing on other boys teams. But once they see my passion and skills they treat me with respect and accept me. Playing with boys is really cool.”

Two of the biggest influences on the youngster’s football career is coach Otis Minors and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. She also drew inspiration from late St David’s Warriors’ captain Landro Minors.

“Landro was one of my biggest fans,” she said. “He always told me how proud of me he was and he called me a beast!”

While she has already made her presence felt on the football pitch, Nesbeth has also proven she’s no slouch in cricket and netball either.

She plays netball for her school and represents St David’s Under-16 girls developments team and Under-40 team Tough Enough in cricket.

Such is her potential on the cricket pitch that at the end of the last cricket season Nesbeth was invited to train with the women’s national team. She is also one of only two girls to play in the Annual Mini Cup Match.

“Jahde Hill and myself made history by being the first girls to play in the Mini Cup match Classic hosted by Youth And Sport in July 2010,” Nesbeth proudly recalls. “We were invited to the office of (Sports) Minister Glenn Blakeney where we were congratulated by Mr Blakeney.”

Show me the bling, bling: Multi talented junior athlete Leilanni Nesbeth shows off her impressive display of trophies and medals.

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Published November 17, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 17, 2011 at 8:18 am)

Young, talented and as good as the boys

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