“Dream It, Believe It” – U-16 Footballer Ilana Lashley Speaks Her Game

SHE is only 15 years old but is already creating waves on the football pitch. Her name is Ilana Lashley and she resides in Vieux Fort South. A former student of the Plain View Combined School, Lashley presently attends the Micoud Secondary School and is in Form 3.

Image of Ilana Lashley (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)
Ilana Lashley (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)

The young, energetic and aspiring attacking midfield player, who plays for Victory Eagles in the Vieux Fort South Football League and represent VFS at the National Under-16 level, is under the watchful eyes of Coaches Denroy Mathurin and Titus Elva.

She spoke to The VOICE on Tuesday about her football exploits and how far she would like to go playing one of the world’s leading sports.

The VOICE: What are your favourite subjects, and why, and what other subjects are you currently studying?

Ilana: I love English Language because from my perspective it gives me a specific description of the uniqueness of the English grammar, vocabulary and word combinations. For Food and Nutrition, I simply love eating. My other subjects are Principles of Accounts, Principles of Business, Information Technology, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Agricultural Science, Physical Education, Clothing and Textiles, History and Geography.

The VOICE: How did it all happen for you in football?

Ilana: From a child, I always loved football. My family knew that so they always got me footballs and allowed me to play very often.

The VOICE: At what age did you start playing the game?

Ilana: From a very early age, playing with a ball was my favourite thing to do. I joined my first club at 10 years old.

The VOICE: Who encouraged you in the first place to play football?

Ilana: My first coach, Ricardo Imbert. He taught me a lot and spent a lot of time teaching me the basics and most of what I know today. I am forever grateful for his involvement in my early development.

The VOICE: Do your parents or family members encourage you by supporting you at the various matches?

Ilana: Yes, they do. My aunt Tenny, grandmother Marie, my little brother Ilan and cousin Camillus are some of my biggest fans. But many other family members and close friends are also very supportive.

The VOICE: What other sports have you participated in before, and why the switch to football?

Ilana: I did track and field for a few years and was a member of the Pace Setters Club. During that period on the track, I won many gold medals in the 100-metres, 200-metres and 400-metres races. I love track and field and was very good at it, but I love football more. I did not switch intentionally; it became very hard to keep up with both because the training was held simultaneously, so I was forced to choose one. However, I still represent my school at the Inter- Secondary level. In March, at the Secondary Schools championship finals held at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, I won 2 gold medals in the 100-metres and 4×100-metre relay races.

Image: Ilana Lashley proudly holding the MVP trophy of the finals after the SLFA Under-16 finals. (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)
Ilana Lashley proudly holding the MVP trophy of the finals after the SLFA Under-16 finals. (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)

The VOICE: What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport to date?

Ilana: Making it onto the Saint Lucia National Under-15 team and getting the opportunity to represent my country both local and internationally, and also, winning the two championships for the Vieux Fort South team and also getting the award for the Most Valuable Player this year.

The VOICE: Who is your favourite international football player, and why?

Ilana: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who plays for Manchester United.

The VOICE: Who are your sports heroes and what do you admire most about them?

Ilana: Same as above. I admire their composure on the ball, professionalism, talent skills and determination.

The VOICE: How do you prepare for a championship?

Ilana: Intense training on a daily basis, focusing and trying to visualize the game the night before. Also, proper diet and sleep, studying the opponents’ techniques and strategy so you know what you are up against and to attack accordingly to ensure victory on the day.

The VOICE: How many times have you represented your club and Saint Lucia respectively?

Ilana: I have represented my club for a number of years and Saint Lucia on two occasions — in Orlando last summer and Suriname in 2015. Suriname was my first international tour and we did our best. While in Orlando, Florida, Saint Lucia made it to quarterfinals, where I scored a lovely free kick.

The VOICE: How many championships have you won representing your clubs?

Ilana: Representing VFS, we won back-to-back National Under-16 championships (2016/2017).

The VOICE: How far would you like to go representing Saint Lucia in football?

Ilana: My goal is to take it as far as it goes, to do my best and to make my country be known through my talent on the pitch.

The VOICE: What do you think are keys to your success?

Ilana: First, God for blessing me with this talent, hard work, dedication, and foresight. At present, I am on a mission to make it my goal and ask God to strengthen me every day. There is also the support from my aunt, granny and brother.

The VOICE: From where do you draw your inspiration?

Ilana: Recognizing that I am blessed with a talent and making the best of it. I want to make myself family and country proud. I want to make my coaches proud also.

The VOICE: What are your favourite meal/drink?

Ilana: My granny is the best chef and I love her Sunday cooking: the best stew pork, Spanish rice, lasagna, coleslaw, potato salad and my favourite drink, orange juice.

The VOICE: What do you do during your spare time?

Illana: I am always training with or without my team members. I play the percussion drums in my church and love singing with my aunt Tenny in our spare time.

The VOICE: Do you have a saying or a motto you live by?

Ilana: I must always do better than yesterday. I am a BIG DEAL!

The VOICE: What words of advice or encouragement do you have to share with younger footballers in VFS?

Ilana: Like one of my teachers at Palin View use to say, ‘Try and try and never give up. If you can dream it, you can achieve it; believe in yourself and remember only you can stop you.’

The VOICE: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Ilana: I would like to thank my coaches and fellow teammates for their support and the great friendship we share. I love and appreciate them all.

Anthony De Beauville is The VOICE Publishing Company’s multi-award winning sports journalist. He works closely with a number of sports federations including the Department of Youth Development and Sports, the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and other organizations.

He covers and contributes articles highlighting the areas of international, regional, national, community based clubs and schools sporting activities. There is never an off day as he stays busy... Read full bio...

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