It was a joyous day for five students on Saturday as they received scholarships to further their education and soccer careers in the United States through the Student-Athlete Resources and Support (STARS) Athletic Programme, spearheaded by the Ministry of Education’s Scholarship and Educational Loan Division (SELD).
The announcement was made at a press conference on Saturday on Shirley Street, and was led by Jurelle Mullings, coordinator of the STARS Athletic Programme.
The five student athletes are: McKell Yallop, Rashawn Hamilton, Savanna Rolle, Laurann Brown and India Davis.
Brown, Yallop and Rolle were in attendance.
Yallop recently graduated from Sunland Baptist Academy in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and will be headed to the west coast to play for the Arizona Western College Matadors in Yuma, Arizona. The coach there is Nicole Acosta. The Lady Matadors compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I. Yallop, who plays attacking midfield or defensive midfield, will be looking to assist the Lady Matadors who finished with a 21-3 win-loss record last season.
Yallop has been playing soccer for nine years and has played on the national team.
“I love soccer. It has taken me to many places around the world and has given me a lot of opportunities. I love the sport. I encourage a lot of females to play,” she said.
McKell’s father Miles Yallop commended Mullings and the Ministry of Education for the opportunity they have afforded his daughter. He hopes that it continues as it opens doors for student-athletes to further their education and sporting careers.
Brown is a graduate of St. Anne’s School here in New Providence. She will be joining the Dodge City Community College Conquistadors in Dodge City, Kansas. The center midfielder/center back will be playing under the guide of Coach Steward Bortey, who coached his team to nine wins, nine losses and one draw last season. The Conquistadors also play in the NJCAA Division I.
The Sports Management major said: “It is because of my passion for soccer that I have been awarded this opportunity. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue my soccer career.”
Bortey, who joined in on Skype, said: “I am very appreciative of Laurann for deciding to bring her talents here to play. Everyone who I have picked up on my roster is a hard worker. They are from all over the world. My expectations for Laurann is high. I want her to come in and take a role on the team on the backline. I see her playing defense for me. I also see her playing up top for me in the forward position.”
Andre Moss, vice president of the Bahamas Football Association (BFA), is responsible for women’s soccer in The Bahamas.
“We have a lot of things planned in the BFA that will be rolled out. The target will be to get more women in football because the opportunities are tremendous. Partnering with FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) and the ministry, we hope to get a lot of opportunities in Nassau, Grand Bahama and throughout The Bahamas as we develop this, to try to get more women in football and obviously provide educational opportunities so they can reach their goals and come back and give back to the sport,” Moss said.
Rolle and Davis will be a part of history for the Allen University Yellow Jackets in Columbia, South Carolina. This is the university’s inaugural season in women’s soccer. The Yellow Jackets will be playing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Appalachian Athletic Conference. Rolle and Davis will be playing for Coach Alexandria Mouton. Rolle loves to play more on the defensive line but she said she also plays the forward position.
She said: “I had many challenges, injuries and setbacks. I want to thank my parents for believing in me and keep on pushing me to pursue what I want to do.”
Rolle graduated from Nassau Christian Academy (NCA) while Davis graduated from Kingsway Academy, both in New Providence.
Hamilton is the only male in the group. He will be going to St. Andrews University, to play for the St. Andrews Knights in Laurinburg, North Carolina. That team, which also competes in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, is coming off a 2-12-1 win-loss-draw record. The recent C.W. Saunders graduate will have an opportunity to turn things around for the Knights. He will be playing for Coach Stevan Hernandez.
On hand at the press conference was Daria Adderley, who coached Yallop, Brown and Rolle at either the club or national level.
“I am elated to see these three young ladies get scholarships to pursue their academic and soccer careers. I have been in soccer for over 15 years and to see what I have accomplished through my dedication, hard work and perseverance – it feels good. I’m just happy for these young ladies,” Adderley said.
Mullings said that soccer is not the only discipline in the scholarship and loans program. She said that more and more sporting federations have become interested in obtaining grants for their athletes.
The student-athletes from Saturday will head to their respective schools by early August as the soccer season starts in mid/late August.
The five student-athletes were selected after a STARS Soccer Showcase held at the Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field back in February of this year. They were not only selected for their on-field skills but also their work in the classroom.
There were 115 attendees at the showcase with 75 colleges coaches either live streaming or present.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism