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St. Francis goalkeeper Klil Keshwar Credit: St. Francis Athletics

Growing up in Trinidad, West Indies, Klil Keshwar envisioned playing collegiate soccer in the U.S. She did not imagine helping a college build a women’s soccer program from the ground up, but when the opportunity to do just that at St. Francis College in Brooklyn arose, she stepped up to the challenge.

“Both on the players’ and the coaches’ end, we have to be able to organize the team and find players that stick around together,” said Keshwar, who is part of St. Francis’ first-ever women’s soccer team. “For us to be able to actually get that within four years I think is a great thing. I believe this year we are able to go far and do well in our conference.”

Now a senior majoring in communications with a concentration on digital media, Keshwar had several options for collegiate soccer. At 6-foot-2, she is a formidable force as goalkeeper.

“The thing that drew me to St. Francis was one, the culture that they have in the school,” said Keshwar, 22. “Two, the attitude of the coach wanting to do well with the team and wanting the best for us as a group. It felt like the right one and I chose it.

“To be able to start from ground up, to set down goals and standards we want within the team is an honor and a challenge,” she added. “It helps me grow as a person and it helps me develop. … It’s been a great journey.”

Keshwar started playing soccer at around age nine and fell in love with the sport. Becoming a goalkeeper happened quite unexpectedly. Originally a forward, over time she found her position in defense and was recruited to the junior national team as a defender. When she was around 13, there was a shooting drill and each person took a turn at the goal. “I was saving all the goals,” she recalled. “We didn’t have a proper goalkeeper then, so they had me start training with the goalkeeping coach.”

Over the summer, Keshwar played with Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s national team for the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) World Cup qualifying. The international experience was exhilarating.

“You get a different experience internationally in terms of your game intelligence,” said Keshwar, who hopes to play professionally and then become a sports commentator. “To be able to bring that back to the [St. Francis] team and help the younger ones develop and grow from that is such a great opportunity.”

SOURCE: New York Amsterdam News