Senior national women’s footballer Keinelle Johnson is off to unfamiliar territory, and although her mother Janelle Johnson remains anxious, she is not going to stand in the way of her daughter’s dream.
The 16-year-old, who has been playing football for the last six years with the National Sports Council, recently accepted a two-year partial scholarship to North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC). There, she would be studying Psychology, and fulfill her dream of becoming a student-athlete with the NIACC Trojan’s Women’s Team.
“I am really excited to start the new journey and see my dream come true,” she said ecstatically.
And despite reports of the high number of COVID-19 positive cases out of the United States of America, Keinelle said she was not in the least bit fazed.
“It’s just a new perspective. I will take the necessary precautions and I should be fine. Even with changes made to the game, the major one being no spectators, it should still be good. I don’t see it impacting the game,” she said.
The former Christ Church Foundation School scholar said she intended to try out for every available position, to add to her repertoire of left back, center back and left wing.
Last year, Keinelle was one of 28 students who took part in the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) inaugural BFA Schools Referee Development Program. Prior to that, she was a part of the 19-woman senior female team that took part in the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifiers in Jamaica, and was also one of the goal scorers in the Concacaf Women’s Qualifiers in 2017, when the Under-17 Lady Tridents throttled Guyana 5-1.
Janelle however said she was scared, but would not dare stand in the way of her only daughter’s dreams.
“I know she is doing something that she actually loves. It took a while for me to become more comfortable, because I’m not totally comfortable with it. It took a while for me to come around in light of the whole COVID. She’s only 16, she’s going to some place where she knows absolutely no one. But it is her dream, and I can’t stand in the way of that. She loves football, so I cannot stand in the way of that,” she said.
Janelle said it was going to be hard, but she was prepared to travel with her daughter to ensure she settled in ahead of her new journey which begins on Saturday.
“We are always constantly together. When she is not at school, when it comes to football practice, anything outside of school, we are always together. I am going to miss her like crazy. I am not looking forward to actually having to leave her and come back home, but at the same time I have to let go at some point and let her take this journey on her own. I can’t take it with or for her,” she said.
Keinelle was offered the scholarship in May, and Janelle, admitting it took a while for it all to sink in, said she and her last of her two children had lengthy discussions about the opportunity as time was limited before the journey began.
“It’s something she’s been saying forever; she always wanted a scholarship. Now that that has materialized for her, I just can’t take that away from her. COVID isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so she has to work around it; sanitize, masks, remain six feet from others and try to be as cautious as possible. I foresee her taking the precautions she needs to take and doing what she needs to do as I’ve been preaching,” she said.