Ricardo Campbell, Youthlink Writer
As a senior undergraduate at the University of Maine in the United States of America, 20-year-old Jamaica-born footballer Donike Ferreira is intent on excelling in sports and academics, both of which are very dear to her.
Her trek in sports began at age five, she told Youthlink, when she played among boys, without shoes, in her community in Montego Bay.
"At times, I'd sprain my toes and get bruises, but that only motivated me to do better. Football, to me, is a source from which I gain peace of mind despite challenges or obstacles in my life. I use football to demolish all obstacles," she said.
The former Herbert Morrison Technical High School student said despite being abroad, her friends and family in Jamaica continue to support her on and off the field.
USING HER GIFT
"God gave me a gift and it is being able to play football, so I am ensured that I didn't waste my talent. My sisters Kerri and Dehandria and my uncle David are prime sources of motivation. It goes a far way to know you have the support of your loved ones, especially since my mom passed away."
Her journey to the University of Maine began when she was unofficially invited to play at a football match and, fortunately, her present coach was recruiting at that game. He saw how well she played and offered Donike a scholarship.
She is currently pursuing a bachelor of science degree with a major in biology and a minor in criminal justice.
However, she still has to find the time for her love, football. and has been doing very well in terms of her achievements. She received several champion awards, including the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Sunrise Conference - 2009-2010; United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Champion - 2010-2011; USCAA Player of the Week and the USCAA National Championship Most Valuable Player - 2011.
With footballers Didier Drogba and Lionel Messi being her favourite sport stars, Donike envisions a career in professional football.
"In addition to that, I want to be a trained physical therapist. [I also want to be] developing organisations to financially support young Jamaican athletes and working with agencies to establish more female football leagues in Jamaica," the star on the rise declared.
Donike Ferreira plays in a match against Ohio Midwestern University in the USCAA Championship final.