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Aklie Edwards (#3), Beasly (center), Daniel (#9).Oh, how nice it was to interview 23-year-old Aklie Edwards. He’s outspoken and assertive, albeit very humble and down-to-earth.
Warriors Reloaded caught up with the youngster just as he was taking some down time (which is not very often). The Defence Force defender gave us the scoop on his personal life, the struggles he faced in his childhood, and how he rose above those struggles to become what he is today.

Growing pains
Aklie Edwards spoke to his father for the first time this year. It was a strange feeling. The conversation was via a long-distance telephone call. He could not put a face to the voice, since the last time he saw his father in person, he was just a few months old.

“I only started speaking to my father this year. He lives in New York and he called me after getting my number from an aunt,” he shares.

“He probably started hearing about me playing football. We don’t talk often. My mommy encouraged me to talk to him to see what he had to say. I didn’t really pay him no mind. He never offered me any help.”

For Edwards, the first of five children, growing up was tough. The family learned to be very resourceful, as money was a scarce commodity. He remembers his mother working “different odd jobs” to make ends meet.

“It was tough for me coming up. My mom had it really hard trying to see about all of us at the same time. It was tough…it was really tough,” he says.

Role model
Despite his many struggles, Edwards always stepped up to the plate. “I try to be a role model for my brothers and sisters,” he discloses.

How does this soft-spoken lad get into big brother role? Well, he does not hesitate to raise his voice to ensure his younger siblings walk on the straight and narrow.

“I will talk to them loudly and stern. I try to teach them what is right from wrong. It’s very important for them to do the right thing, given what’s going on in the country today.”

Football fever
The Point Fortin resident learnt very early in life the meaning of sacrifice. When his mother could not send him to football training because of a tight budget, an eager 12-year-old Edwards saved his lunch money to ensure he got his chance to practice on the pitch.

He says, “I had a love for the game long time. My mom didn’t allow me to train and stuff because things were really hard. She didn’t have the extra money. I had to make sacrifices. I used to save my lunch money to be able to travel to the Palo Seco Coaching School.”

The former Siparia Junior Secondary and Fyzabad Composite student was in high praise of his former coach Keith Pereira, who he says played a vital role in shaping his career.

“He always encouraged me. He developed me mentally. I never used to make the starting team at first, but he always told me, work hard and one day it would work out for me. And his words came to pass.”

With such a determined spirit, it’s no surprise that Edwards was chosen to play for the Petrotrin Under 17 team and the Under 20 national team.

“It was very tough in the beginning,”he admits. “I got dropped from the national team at a point in time.”

Not one to settle for less, Edwards continued to train. It was not long before all his hard work bore fruit.

“When the team went away, I continued my personal training. Eventually, I got called for the team again, and things began to look up.”

The talented defender hopes to be on the squad when the Soca Warriors clash with Cuba in the do-or-die match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 19.

Is she the one?
Okay, so he’s focused and very mature for his age, but I just had to find out if he had a “mushy” side. And he does!

“I would love to have a family and settle down,” he said. “Finding the right girl is kinda difficult. It’s kinda complicated. I just recently met someone and I’m hoping that she can be the one…hopefully.”