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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


24 October 2023

Aliyah Monthe from 1st Battalion Cadets based in Larne, tells her story about the unfolding of her love of football as she prepares to head with Kenya along with two other cadets representing Northern Ireland.

Aliyah said “I discovered my love for football when I was about 6 years old and began joining in at break time with the boys in my class. From those early days every spare minute I had was with a ball.  I have to say that my love for football comes from the all the enthuastic people I have met and seen through both playing and watching the sport. Some of the best, funniest players and people I have met, was through my primary school football teams, park games and squads. The love of football is massive all around the world, I love to see how happy it makes people even in the most unexpected of places.

I massively support ladies’ football and how it has expanded and I believe there’s still so much more to go. I protested in my high school for the past few for girls to have equal opportunities in contact sports such as football, I am proud to say I was very successful.

The Army Cadet Force (ACF) has been extremely encouraging and supports girls with playing football and equality in generally everything, which I am so pleased about. The adults really motivate all girls to give these types of sports a go and in so many instances the female turn outs were larger than the guys!

I have played for 3 teams over 8 years. Firstly when I was 7 ½ years old was Carnmoney Ladies (now Ballyclare Comrades). This began after a conversation at church between my mum and one of the youth leaders. When I was around 11 ½ years old I moved to Crusaders Strikers as a lot of my friends had moved on and played for them also. In June this year I decided I needed a change and moved to Greenisland Women’s team and I really enjoy playing for them with a few of my friends who I have known throughout my football years as well as  many new people over the years playing football.

The cadets has been such a gift to me. The dedication, spirit, stories and humour of the adults and my friends have been what’s kept me supported and happy.  I am so  grateful I am one of the few kids that get to play football at this level. Me and my group of friends all play football and got in to represent the country in February in the National Cadets Final. We’re all very close as we played together for Crusaders as well as just growing up with one another, and it is always a joy to do anything in cadets with them. Besides us 5, there were 4 others in the team who we became close with the very day of the trials and they were also a major part of the successful ending. We travelled to Liverpool for the tournament and were unbeaten with the exception of our last game, which was a draw. Going against girls from all around the U.K with a lot of drive, some games were tough- but that’s what made it so much more enjoyable. We ended up winning 1st place and I remember the guys cheering us on. It wasn’t divided by gender then, and we were all were wearing green and blue kits were definitely got the loudest cheers for Northern Ireland.

On the boat back home I was asked about travelling to Kenya to help children and build a football club. I said yes, overjoyed and I can’t wait to go. It means a lot to get this opportunity and I will be sure to cherish the memories I make there. I’m excited to meet the kids and take photographs. I’m also doing my A-Level art and want to dedicate part of my project to the trip. I’m not really sure what to expect, but I know a beautiful culture will await there and hopefully I can make a mark by sharing the beautiful game”

We look forward to hearing from Aliya and her fellow cadets when they return from Kenya.