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Trinidad & Tobago women’s national team goalkeeper Kimika Forbes made history by becoming the first Caribbean player to win the Copa Libertadores Feminina, when she helped Paraguay’s Sportivo Limpeno defeat Estudiantes de Guarico of Venezuela, 3-2, in last month’s 2016 final. The 26-year-old, who played college soccer in the United States, took some times to speak to CONCACAF.com about her career.

Who inspired you to play football?
Growing up there were a number of people who I truly admired watching like Oliver Kahn, Iker Casillas and Claudio Bravo. I look at Claudio Bravo and I saw myself. He went through a lot of challenges, but in time he progressed through and has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and is a regular for both club and country. So growing up and going through my teens and adulthood, these have been key players and goalkeeping has stuck with me as a passion since then.

You made senior international debut in 2006. How did it feel to represent Trinidad & Tobago?
Representing your country is one of the greatest honors any professional footballer could have. It was a wonderful memory for me and I am looking forward to many more with the Soca Princesses.

You played with University of Maine at Fort Kent in the United States. How did that experience help you grow as a footballer?
It cemented to me that football is definitely what I want to do with my life. U.S. colleges produce good goalkeepers and I felt I was in good hands. I studied Physical Education there and I would say I developed technically as a goalkeeper.

You impressed in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, helping T&T advance to the semifinals and eventually finish fourth. Would you say that competition was a turning point in your career?
It definitely was a turning point in my career. The game against the United States (a 1-0 loss), where I made 9 saves, was a massive moment from me. Interestingly that is when South American clubs started to take an interest in me and, thankfully, almost two years later, I got my opportunity to play professionally in Paraguay with Sportivo Limpeño. I was disappointed not to qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but it is clear that women’s football is heading in the right direction in Trinidad & Tobago.

When you were told about the opportunity to play professionally in Paraguay and compete in a tournament like the Copa Libertadores, what went through your mind? 
I was just speechless. I could not believe that I was attracting interest from a big club in South America with good pedigree that plays football well. No other woman from the Caribbean got this sort of opportunity, so I was humbled and honored. I must say, though, my excitement subdued a little because it took so long to get the visa to get to play and I was even thinking to myself if this doesn’t happen, then maybe this is not my time. However, I was patient and I got the visa and got to Paraguay and was able to play games…key ones…for my team.

How is football played in South America and the United States as compared to Trinidad & Tobago?
In Trinidad and Tobago, I think there needs to be more work to make football professional for women. It will take time, but things are going in the right direction. In the States, there was a lot of emphasis on size and fitness and in South America it is about your technical ability and what you do with the ball. I have enjoyed playing in all areas, but I must say playing in South America has been a delight for me.

How did it feel to win the 2016 Copa Libertadores Feminina?
It is a feeling that I still cannot get over. It was an amazing night in Uruguay, saying that you are the champion of South America is a wonderful feeling. It is one of the best moments of my career thus far for sure. My teammates and everyone were celebrating and dancing and rejoicing. It was truly a special moment and one that I will never forget as a professional.

What are your goals for 2017?
I would like to start my own academy for goalkeepers. This is something I would like to get off the ground and started soon. In addition, I would like to play in South America again. I would love to go and win the Copa Libertadores again. Finally I would like to remain a regular in the Trinidad & Tobago national team and make a good impression on our new coach.

What do you like to do outside of football?
I like to listen to music, all types of music. Before games I listen to Soca music to get me hyped up for any big game.