This story appears in FCA Magazine’s November/December 2016 issue. Subscribe today!
Born: Jan. 3, 1987
Hometown: Bridgetown, Barbados
Position: Goal Attacker
Team: Barbados National Netball
• 2014 Commonwealth Games
• Eight-time World Cup Qualifier
• Previously served on Combined Faith leadership team
• Currently leads Combined Faith Netball Program
Growing up in Bridgetown, Barbados, it was just my mom and me. Watching her play netball, volleyball and cricket, I knew at a young age I wanted to be an athlete too. I tried pretty much every sport, but when I was 13 years old I decided to concentrate on netball—a sport similar to basketball but with a few different rules, like no dribbling or running with the ball, and players are designated to certain areas of the court. It’s fast-paced, exciting and a true team sport.
While my mother exposed me to sports, my grandmother introduced me to faith in God. She took me to church with her until I was 12.
(I didn’t even really have much of a say.) But by the time I reached high school, my grandmother moved away. Considering my mom didn’t go to church, I took advantage of this newfound “freedom” and no longer attended, eventually straying from God.
Around that time my netball career started to take off. I was at Eden Lodge Primary, and I had so much success that in 2004—as a 17-year-old—I made the Barbados national team, playing with women all at least 25 years old.
Four years later, still with the national team, God called me back to Him. Our team goes to church before every trip, but one Sunday I decided not to attend. My manager called and asked why I wasn’t there with my teammates. I still didn’t want to go, but soon I realized how bad it would look if I was the only one absent. I showed up late, just as they were in the midst of an altar call, and some teammates wanted me to come down with them. I went just to support them, but ended up accepting Christ myself.
The very next night, though, I went partying with my team and felt miserable. I took a taxi home, and it was there where God invaded my space and transformed my life in the blink of an eye. I have never gone back to my old ways.
It was the best decision I’ve ever made, even though the first few years were very difficult in every aspect. When I told friends I wasn’t going to do what I used to do, they didn’t believe me, thinking I’d eventually turn back to drinking and partying. But I had changed; I truly didn’t want to be the same person. Every time it felt difficult to stand up for God, He encouraged me to keep going.
For awhile now, I’ve been investing in early mornings with God to read and pray. During those times, I often think back to my grandmother laying the foundation of faith in my life. Through her, God’s Word was sewn into the fabric of my being; I just didn’t know it was happening at the time.
When I started on the national netball team, I was the youngest and didn’t know Jesus. Now I’m one of the older players, and others come to me to share what they are going through, to seek wisdom, or to simply pray together. At this stage of my career, I am seeing myself move from player to mentor. I don’t see sports as merely an opportunity to travel the world and meet all kinds of people (which is amazing), but I can use sports to help women learn to be who God needs them to be for their generation.
Two years into my relationship with Christ, I met FCA Barbados director Dean Squires and other FCA leaders. They showed me ways to share Christ through sports. At the time, I didn’t comprehend how athletes could serve God, but we absolutely can, just like pastors and ministers. A pastor might not even have access to a team. I do. I can stand as a Christian for the sport of netball.
God gives everyone unique gifts in different areas, and together we are His body. He is raising up athletes on all teams so everybody will have a chance to hear the gospel. We are all here for one vision and one dream—to win souls for the kingdom.
I believe netball is God’s desire for my life. He’s given me talent, and right now I’m where He wants me to be. Whatever happens in the future, I’ve already tasted and seen the goodness of God, and that keeps me living to make His name known.
Photos courtesy of Selwyn Yeo