Clarke battled her way to fitness to reach Jamaica

  • Maha Clarke, centre, shoots for Bermuda against NCAA Division III Susqehanna University last evening before setting up Georgia Harris, right, for the winner in Bermuda's 1-0 victory(Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Maha Clarke

A “popped out” kneecap was not going to be enough to prevent Maha Clarke from representing Bermuda at the Central American and Caribbean Games qualifiers last November, the Bermuda forward revealed.

Clarke scored the only goal of the national team’s 1-0 victory over NCAA Division III side Delaware Valley College at the National Sports Centre last Saturday evening and she said there was no way the teenager, a sophomore at Division II Queens University of Charlotte, was going to miss out on playing for Bermuda at the CAC qualifiers in Jamaica.

“Both my knees are injured, but my most recent injury was to my left knee during practice when I was at Queens,” Clarke said. “I got hit with a field hockey stick and it actually put my kneecap out of place, so it popped out and back in.

“I was out for about three weeks and was on crutches, but I recovered pretty quickly because I really wanted to play in Jamaica.”

The 19-year-old said it was important that the team won at the weekend in cold conditions at the NSC. Clarke struck decisively after a penalty corner in the third quarter, giving Bermuda a deserved victory after incessant pressure against determined opponents from Pennsylvania.

“We needed to make a statement,” Clarke said. “It was our home turf and we needed to show Bermuda that we’re back and we’re just as good as we were in Jamaica despite all the Christmas food! It was definitely intense, but in my head we just needed a goal.”

Her goal was confirmed by winger Connie Betts, who was lurking at the far post but confirmed after the game that it was Clarke who deserved to be on the scoresheet,

“I thought she deflected it in,” Clarke said of Betts, “Overall, we played well. It was our first game back since Jamaica, so it was nice for us to come back as a team and play together,”

Clarke will begin her third season with Queens this autumn after notching a goal and an assistant in 2017.

“The second season was great,” she said of a programme who only started playing in 2016. “We played much higher standard Division II teams and we played very well overall.”

But Jamaica will live long in the memory and Clarke is hopeful for more to come.

“Jamaica was an amazing experience,” she said. “I’m so thankful that we had a bunch of seniors to show the younger players the ropes.”