Judging by Kennedy Faulknor’s outstanding performance in the Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer’s (CONCACAF) inaugural Girls Under-15 championship in the Cayman Islands last month, it’s hard to believe that she was playing in a new position.
Just weeks before the squad was assembled for training, the teenager was asked to switch from attack to defence.
The transition was seamless, as the new left back and the rest of the Canadian defence conceded a tournament-low three goals in six contests on the way to clinching the regional championship.
“It was a big adjustment for Kennedy because most soccer players like to score goals,” said her father, Glen Faulknor, who migrated from Jamaica at age four and played with Magic in the local league. “She however didn’t complain and did what was best for the team.”
The versatile player was among three Bill Crothers Secondary School students that Markham City Council recognized for athletic excellence last week.
“I am extremely happy to be honoured because I worked very hard to make the national team,” said the Grade 10 student and Unionville Milliken Soccer Club Strikers 99 player. “It was a great experience to play for my country and win the title. This recognition is icing on the cake.”
Faulknor was named one of the tournament’s Best XI players and former Jamaica and Cayman Islands technical director Carl Brown, who attended the tournament as a member of the CONCACAF technical committee, singled her out as one of the players that impressed him.
“That’s good to know and we are quite proud of what she did,” said her father, who is an assistant coach with the Unionville Milliken club. “She had a soccer ball at her feet as soon as she started walking and I used to take her with me to some of my soccer games. She grew up with the sport.”
Faulknor was among five players from her local club at the CONCACAF tournament. The others were Canadian teammates Kavina Ganesham, Danielle Camilleri and midfielders Arianna Campbell and Alexis Fortune, who represented Trinidad & Tobago.
Dallyssa Huggins had a highly successful year on the athletic track.
At the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) central region meet last May at York University, she set a new mark of 1.75 metres in the high jump – the previous best was 1.65 metres set seven years ago – and won the 400-metre event in 57.89 secs. A few weeks later at the provincial championship in Mississauga, she played a major role in her school’s convincing team victory.
Huggins captured the junior high jump title with a leap of 1.70 metres and spearheaded the girls’ 4 x 100-metre relay team to victory as her Unionville school finished 41 points ahead of Lord Dorchester Secondary School.
“The hard training paid off and this recognition will encourage me to keep going and always strive to do well,” said the 2014 Athletics Ontario indoor pentathlon and heptathlon champion, who plans to attend a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division One school and be an Olympic participant.
Huggins and Myles Banfield, who recorded a personal best 48.19 secs. in the 400-metre event at the Legion national youth championships in Langley, British Columbia last month, are Athletics Ontario Athlete of the Year finalists.
The winners will be announced on Saturday at a gala reception at the Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites.
Banfield, who aspires to pursue a sports medicine career, started running competitively in Grade 10.
“He has come a long way in a short time and I am very proud of him,” said his mother, Camille Logan, who is the York Region District School Board principal of inclusive school and community services.