The Team TTO girls beach soccer team created double history when they claimed the gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau , Bahamas Saturday night.
Not only did they become the first team sport to win a gold medal for this country, but they also included the first special needs athlete within their ranks to achieve the feat: Tamika Campbell.
Campbell is a higher functioning athlete with a slight learning disability who has represented the Special Olympics of Trinidad and Tobago (SOTT) at the Special Olympics World Games in California in 2015 and the Special Olympics Winter Games in Austria earlier this year.
Campbell was discovered at the SOTT Seaside Games at Maracas in October last year when the Beach Soccer Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BSATT) collaborated with the SOTT last year.
BSATT president Kyle Lequay said Campbell -she plays floor hockey, basketball and athletics as well- stood out while playing with the boys.
“We later held a coaching course for players with special needs at Saith Park and again she was impressive so when the TTOC gave the green light that there would be a TeamTTO girls beach soccer team at CYG, we invited her to trials,” said Lequay.
At the screening session in April, coach Chad Appoo recommended Campbell- described as an attacking and competitive player by both Lequay and SOTT president Candy Berment-Harper- be selected to the final Team TTO girls beach soccer team.
“ She is a nice , quiet girl whose personality really comes out when she interacts with her teammates Coach Appoo said she is very willing to learn and does whatever is demanded of her. We feel with a little more direction, she will develop into an even better player,”Lequay said.
“We are so happy and proud of her because it shows is with the inclusion of special needs kids not only can they participate at a high level but they can be successful once they have the ability and opportunity to work hard and push themselves. She created double history “
Berment -Harper was also gushing about her feelings about Campbell’s achievement.
“ We were so proud of her because people in Trinidad and Tobago, they still really don’t accept special needs children but with this feat by the girls beach football and Tamika being able to contribute to their success, it really made the SOTT fraternity proud,” she said about Campbell who attends the Lady Hochoy Home in Gasparillo.
“It could not have happened to a nicer person , she is so helpful, is a team player and always wants to win.l I really can only say complimentary things about her,”Berment-Harper stressed.
“ It is just great to see her crossing over and being part of a regular team and being successful.Hopefully she inspires more of our athletes to follow in her footsteps,” -Berment-Harper