Wexford Youth player’s Blessing to Irish soccer
2019-04-01 17:21:22 -

By Ken McCue


When Blessing Kingsley’s dad bought her first soccer ball, the then four-year-old was ecstatic. It was a soft pink ball, like a balloon, but at the time it was worth the world to her. And it set the Waterford-born player on the path towards national prominence in the beautiful game.


“I joined a proper football team quite late compared to my peers because my mom and I didn’t know what teams were around our area and how to approach them,” Blessing says of her earliest days in the sport.


When Blessing was 11, however, she was recruited by Joe and Bernie Maher to take part in the Community Games, where she represented Graiguecullen in Co Carlow.


“I played my first match on my 12th birthday. Shortly after I was doing some ball-juggling and Ian Cullen, who was the New Oak Boy’s manager at the time, saw me and gave me a registration form. This ended up being my first football club. To me that was equivalent to signing for Manchester United so I was over the moon, as they say in football parlance.”


Soccer, however, wasn’t the only sport for the now 17-year-old, a student in Presentation College Carlow who plays club soccer for Wexford Youth FC. “I played football, basketball, Gaelic football, athletics and even rounders for my primary school team.


“Any sport with a ball appealed to me but when I turned fourteen I decided to stick to football, Gaelic football and athletics. But when I got my first international football call up for a trial in August 2017, I was determined to get onto the team so my focus was on the beautiful game.”


Now an established international player, Blessing loves togging out for the Republic of Ireland. “Representing your country is the greatest feeling. When you are on the pitch you are wearing the crest over your heart along with every girl on the squad. Although we all play for different clubs and are from different parts of the country, we are all united.”


Blessing is inspired by her sporting hero Serena Williams: “I think her work ethic, mindset and drive are definitely extremely admirable. She is just a great example of a woman that never stops and fights for not only what she wants but what she deserves.”


For this young woman of Nigerian heritage, what she feels she deserves is a chance to become a professional soccer player.


“The idea of being in a professional environment where I can better my talent, improve my skills, learn so much, gain so much experience and just make so many memories is amazing. It was always something I wished for when I was younger but always seemed impossible or so far away. And now, since it seems actually possible, I just want to complete my ultimate goal and dream.


“I believe that if you have the right attitude, don’t take anything for granted and work hard, anything is possible. From day one, I have had such a drive to be successful. Everything I put my heart into I want to achieve it to my best potential. There is definitely an unquenchable fire in my heart that is driving me to make it where me as a kid wished to be.


“My family, although small — my Mom, sister Destiny and me — and so many people from Graiguecullen and Carlow town are always behind me whenever I achieve something new, which also both inspires and motivates me.”


Yet soccer is not the only goal for Blessing, who also has aspirations in the field of sports psychology. “I think the power the human brain has is so fascinating and I would really love to help athletes cope and better their game.”


In the meantime, she has to strike a balance between studies and sport. “I have to squeeze music in between … maybe in the future I would love to try to play an instrument. I also love reading, having the ability to just escape into another reality and relate with characters that are not real people is so captivating.”


What is real is the fact that this young woman has a great soccer career ahead where she will continue to be and inspiration to young women from our diverse ethnic backgrounds to take up sport.


Ken McCue is an intercultural officer with Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari).

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