Amanda Nelson (right) started in all three of the Cayman Islands' matches at the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman islands -- Amanda Nelson is not particularly tall, nor wide, but she operates in the heart of the Cayman Islands defense with a style and panache that defies her slender frame.
Now an invaluable member of the squad, despite her talents, Nelson had to wait awhile to get into the team because she was born in the United States 19 years ago.
When it came to her international career, Nelson had a choice to make since her father is American and mother is Caymanian. In the end, she committed to Cayman, but had to go through the long process of obtaining a passport.
Nelson played at club level locally for Future Sports Club in West Bay and is now in her first year at South Georgia State College on a football scholarship, studying for a degree in sonography.
“South Georgia saw me play for Cayman national team and coach Thiago Cunah (Cayman’s former women’s football technical director) recommended me to them,” said Nelson. “He helped a lot.”
Nelson’s reputation went before her, no tryout needed; coach Cunah’s seal of approval was enough.
She started playing aged 11 in Cayman Brac, a sister island to Grand Cayman, in a boy’s team because there were so few girls in football there at the time
Nelson credits Mitchum Sanford, the Brac sports coach, for nurturing her early skills.
Inspired by her grandfather, Basso Parchment, a former national Cayman player, Nelson dedicated herself to the game and studied great players in TV games to improve.
Now a Grand Cayman resident, her blossoming career has helped bring family members closer as everyone monitors her progress.
“Now they all watch my games, even in CONCACAF they’re watching now,” she says. “In God I have a lot of faith. I know soccer doesn’t give you everything you pray for but it has brought out my faith.”
Nelson hopes to go pro one day and even play in the Olympics and World Cup. In the meantime she has enjoyed playing in this tournament.
“Just being here to play against different national teams is amazing,” she says. “Although we lost 0-6 to Mexico in our first match, we were still proud of our performance.”