The Neshaminy graduate, who is a senior at Liberty University, made her international debut with the Jamaica women’s soccer team in the Olympic qualifying tournament
When Gabrielle Farrell received the call in November inviting her to try out for the Jamaica women’s national soccer team, she was pleasantly surprised.
Jacksonville associate head coach Hubert Busby Jr., who coaches Jamaica, had seen Farrell play for Liberty in the Atlantic Sun Conference and thought Farrell could be a scoring threat from the striker position.
Farrell, a Neshaminy High School graduate, didn’t know any of her potential teammates when she went to Houston for camp in January and was one of 20 selected to participate in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Edinburg, Texas.
Though Farrell and Jamaica didn’t advance from its four-team bracket, she is still marveling at the experience.
“It was really exciting to compete in front of so many fans,” Farrell said. “I got to meet a lot of great players from around the world and compete against them. Being on a national stage was pretty cool. The entire experience was so surreal.”
Farrell made her international debut by playing the final 20 minutes of Jamaica’s Feb. 4 tournament finale, a 7-0 victory over Saint Kitts and Nevis. She had one shot on goal.
“When I first got in, I was really, really nervous,” Farrell said. “I just told myself to do what you know how to do. That definitely helped me calm down and allowed me to play the game and enjoy the moment.”
The support she received from her family being there in person and so many friends watching back home and at school in Lynchburg, Virginia, was gratifying.
Getting a taste of playing for Jamaica, which had lost to Mexico (1-0) and Canada (9-0) earlier in the tourney, has her wanting more. After graduating from Liberty with a degree in business marketing in May, she’s hoping to play professionally and continue her affiliation with the national team.
“Most of these girls are older than me and have been on the team for years,” said Farrell, 22. “Coach Busby kind of explained to me that I’m the future of this program. It was super-exciting to get that encouragement. I want to move the program forward as much as I can. I definitely want to have a long history if that’s in the plan for me.”
Since parents Juliet and Paul were born on the island, Farrell has dual citizenship and can play for Jamaica. It’s not a responsibility she takes lightly.
“Representing Jamaica means so much to me,” she said.
Liberty head coach Lang Wedemeyer knows it, too.
“We are so excited for Gabby,” Wedemeyer said. “She has shown great courage in chasing after this dream.”
The 5-foot-4 Farrell starred for Neshaminy, which won the state championship during her sophomore year. Farrell set up teammate Amy Mandia for the game-winning goal in overtime of the title game against Spring-Ford. She received all-state honors as a senior, graduating with 72 career goals.
Farrell’s club team, FC Bucks Freedom, secured the 2013 Elite Club National League U-15 Northern Conference championship.
At Liberty, she was named the Big South Rookie of the Year and Big South all-tournament as a freshman and put up increasingly more impressive numbers as her career progressed. She finished with 24 goals (second in school history) and 14 assists for the Flames, including 10 goals as a senior.
She displayed a flair for the dramatic, too, with 18 game-winning goals at Liberty, seven of which occurred last fall.
Farrell has clearly come a long way since her dad walked her to practice when she started playing soccer with the Hulmeville Soccer Club at the age of 4.
“I didn’t think my career would take me where it has,” Farrell said. “It’s crazy to think back. So many of the coaches that helped me become the player I am now reached out to me. I’m really blessed.”
And she can’t wait to see what is to come.