Gall: Cayman's first pro female footballer
GEORGE TOWN Cayman Islands - The name Shenel Gall is no secret in the Cayman Islands. In addition to being a well-known for her performances on the field, she is a certified referee and coach.

These days, however, the 21-year-old's focus is on her playing career with FC Neunkirch in Switzerland. She joined the second-division side just months after signing a professional contract in May 2012 with the USA's FC Indiana, becoming the first Caymanian women to turn professional.

A fixture with various Caymanian national squads, Gall is making a name for herself, while inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.

"My advice to the young girls and boys of the Cayman Islands and the entire Caribbean is to be determined and work hard," said Gall. "My success is attributed to hard work and determination."

Gall received the Cayman Islands Football Association's prestigious Female Player of the Year award three years in a row, was the leading goalscorer in the women's league and named its Most Valuable Player, before she migrated to the United States to attend the Darton College in Albany, Georgia.

Her road to football stardom began when she joined West Bay's Future FC at only seven years of age. The seeds of love for the sport were planted early.

"I love football for so many reasons," enthused Gall. "Playing this sport made me a better person outside of the field. It's a beautiful game; a work of art to put it simply. Football brings people together, I have met many people through this sport and it has worked its way into my life making it my world."

Gall, who enjoys playing striker and defensive center midfield, lists Marta Vieira da Silva, Carli Lloyd, Didier Drogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo as those players she admires most.

She makes it a point to note, though, that two coaches have impacted her life in the quest to become a professional: Jamaican Bobby McLaren and Brazilian Thiago Cunha, both of whom coached her during the developmental phase.

All those years of dedication paid off handsomely, when she made her Swiss league debut on August 22, going the full 90 minutes at left-back in a 1-0 win over FC Kirchberg. Less than two months later, after being shifted to forward, Gall scored her first goal in a 2-1 loss to FC Rapid Lugano.

With a bright footballing future in the near term, Gall is already looking beyond her playing days, knowing that she wants to stay in the game in different capacities.

"I have completed a FIFA refereeing and coaching course," commented the forward-thinking Gall. "I wish to continue in those areas in a higher level when I am done playing football. It was not easy; sacrifices have to be made in order to be successful. You just have to stay positive and have the heart to press forward. However, in my opinion the most important thing in becoming successful in whatever you do is to place God first in your life and everything else will fall in place."

For Gall, with a strong drive and a level head, there can be no doubt that she will achieve great things in many ways.