Dec 04, 2020 Sports
By Franklin Wilson
Kaieteur News – Senior Goalkeeper of the ‘Lady Jags’, Guyana’s flagship female team Natalie Nedd who became the first Guyanese female footballer to be signed to a scholarship at a University in the USA has been advancing with grace ever since starting the scholarship in 2018.
The combined efforts of the International Support Group (ISG) and the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) brought to fruition a historical beginning which will sure see other players being able to benefit, similarly.
Nedd was recruited by the University as part of a programme established by the ISG and GFF to identify and promote national team players for scholarship opportunities in the USA and Canada.
Kaieteur Sport recently reached out to Nedd to find out how she was progressing and to get her thoughts on how she feels about being the trailblazer in this regard.
KS: Can you tell me about yourself? Where you were born, schools attended, name of mother and father and other sibling (s)?
Natalie: I was born in Georgetown Guyana; I lived there for about eight (8) years. I then migrated to Trinidad in Tabago where I lived in Tabago for about ten (10) years. I attended the Scarborough SDA Primary School and Mason Hall Secondary School in Tabago.
I moved back to Guyana for about two (2) years and did my SAT exams at the New Guyana School before leaving for College. My mother’s name is Hasmin Nedd, my father’s name is Carl Nedd and my brother’s name is Michael Nedd.
KS: You have been the first female footballer to be awarded a scholarship (4-year) at Graceland University, Iowa, USA to pursue studies, how has it been going for you since?
Natalie: At first it didn’t seem real at the time, it was a dream come true for me. It has been going really well over here for the past three years since I got to Graceland. My first year was amazing I got to play a lot of games; I got involved with different student organisations within the school and I also have made a lot of friends during this time.
My second year was bittersweet, after being injured, I was broken mentally but my friends helped me through this process. I decided to focus more on my studies. For the whole year I was able to have a 4.0 GPA. Also, being a Scholar Athlete for that year. Now that I am in my junior year at GU, I am working my way back to being the goalkeeper I know I can be as well as trying to maintain a second year of a 4.0 GPA.
KS: How significant to your mind, was the partnership between the GFF and ISG in making your opportunity a reality?
Natalie: This opportunity wouldn’t have happened if it were not for the GFF and ISG; they played an important part in making this come to pass. Especially with the help of Coach Paul Beresford going out of his way in getting me at Graceland University. The GFF, I consider part of my family, before I left, I worked with the GFF and I got to know a lot of the staff.
KS: Can you say which area of studies you are pursuing?
Natalie: The area of studies that I am pursuing is Sports Management and Social Philosophy with a Minor in Philosophy and Religion.
5. How challenging has it been for you?
Natalie: It hasn’t been very challenging for me since I got to Graceland. It has its moments; some moments are more challenging than others. For instance my second year when I got injured was more challenging than my first year.
KS: What’s a normal day is like for you?
Natalie: A normal day; I would wake up at 7:00 am and get some homework done. I have classes at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm. I hang out with my friends a little during my breaks or watch some television. I have training at 4pm to 6pm. After, I find some time to relax and hangout with my roommate and also get some more schoolwork done.
KS: How active have you been in terms of playing the game?
Natalie: This season, coming back from injury, I have not been playing a lot. I am still trying to get back to playing form. I have been playing a lot of the Junior Varsity Games. This has helped me a lot since I got back from injury getting back into game situations.
KS: How are you able to balance playing and managing your studies?
Natalie: I believe that balancing playing and managing your studies is all about how I manage my time. I have been able to manage school and football this year; however, if I can’t and I am struggling, my Professors have been understanding and flexible when it comes to schoolwork.
KS: How important is this opportunity to you and laying the foundation for others to follow?
Natalie: This is an incredible opportunity I believe that I need to set a good example for the rest of the young girls to follow when they are given an opportunity. I know I can’t be selfish with this opportunity and waste it, I must be productive and give it my best for everyone else.
KS: How challenging has it been with the Covid-19 pandemic being so devastating?
Natalie: It has been difficult over the past few months; at first it was a mental strain trying to stay in shape for games. However, COVID-19 has shown me how strong I can be.
KS: What is the support like for you from your family, GFF and ISG?
Natalie: The support from my family has been strong. My mother and brother have always supported me in my decisions and they continue to. For the GFF and ISG, they have been one of my biggest support system since the beginning.
KS: In terms of continuing to represent your country, how eager are you?
Natalie: I am very eager to play for the Guyana Women’s National Team again. Without being a part of the national team I don’t believe that I would be at College right now.
KS: Female football in Guyana will see some major investments being undertaken by the GFF in terms of more female friendly facilities, your thoughts on this?
Natalie: This is major news for female football in Guyana. I remember this has been an issue since I had returned home. I believe by undertaking to establish better facilities for female football will increase the chances of having more females joining the sport.
KS: As a role model to other players especially females, what would be your advice to the youngsters in terms of staying focused and believing they too, can achieve?
Natalie: I would say if you have a dream to pursue your studies and play football at a College level or something else you should continue working hard and trying to get better every single day.
Most importantly, never give up on your dreams. I’m happy to be a role model for the young female football players; however, I believe that they have a lot of role models in front of them right now that they can look up to especially from the GFF and other female football players in the country who have also pursued their dreams at a College level.
I will tell them that they need to remember that no one else can make this happen but they need to stay focused and one day, the opportunity will come.
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