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             Finn after a match in Virginia last Sunday
Finn after a match in Virginia last Sunday

Twelve year old Alanna Finn is a defensive midfielder who plays up with the U-14 Girls' team of the Maryland Rush Montgomery Soccer club in the Super Y Soccer league. Finn's style of play is attaching with sudden bursts of explosive speed. She often develops a play from deep within the other team's half and either dribbles to pass to an outside midfielder/forward or takes it straight towards the opponent's penalty box and goal. She is unpredictable in the sense that she dribbles through open spaces using creative skills and occasionally distributes a short pass or a long through ball.

She is excellent at using skills that get by defenders to set up scoring opportunities. Defensively, she slide tackles with grace. Her tendencies are to lay off the ball to a teammate and then follow it with a third-player ball or to receive the ball and then play a through ball to an outside forward player in attacking situations. During defensive situations, she adapts quickly to clear the ball keeping her composure, focus and intensity.

She and her older sister who is a striker for the U16 Girls team of D.C Stoddert Soccer club and her high school Varsity team, have been playing soccer ever since they could walk in the Washington DC area. Alanna is entering Middle school this fall and in addition to her club soccer and other school extracurricular activities, she will be playing Junior Varsity soccer for her school in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington. She says, 'Between my classes, homework and sports, I have very little time for anything else but I enjoy it.' What does Finn wants to do in the future? 'I am not sure, but definitely something in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field. Two of my favorite subjects are Math and Science and I enjoy reading, traveling and the outdoors. It is always a pleasure to visit family in the Caribbean and U.K.'

This summer she will be playing in a couple tournaments in nearby Pennsylvania and New Jersey and doing two weeks of intense Math/English and two weeks of Chinese language camps along with her soccer training and games. She says, 'I like to compete on the soccer pitch against formidable opponents. I give it my all whether my team is winning or losing or if it is the first or last minute of the game.'

One of Alanna's favorite defensive midfield players are Michael Essien, the former Chelsea FC player who currently plays for Panathinaikos, the oldest Greek professional football club based in Athens and the Ghana National team. Essien who is not known for speed brings calmness to the defensive/midfield area. One of his strengths are shooting from a wide range and his precision of passing through balls, lay-offs, being unpredictable and his aggressiveness in attacking situations. Another of her favorite player is Javier (Javi) Martinez, the defensive midfielder on Spain's national team. He plays either as a defensive midfielder or central defender with the powerhouse Bayern Munich FC in the German Bundesliga. She likes Martinez because of his admirable attacking speed of play.

She is also impressed with Michael Carrick, a central midfielder who played 34 times for England and is the vice-captain of Manchester United in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Most known as the "passing master" by teammates, Carrick has great patience, composure and timing when attacking and defending the ball. His simplistic moves are what make his performance consistent and successful in games.

But England failed to pick the cultured passer of the ball for the Euro 16 tournament. Did that decision contribute to its embarrassing defeat against the small Nordic country of Iceland? The devastating defeat cost its manager, the former Liverpool boss, Roy Hodgson his job. The humiliating and historical defeat came on the heels of the Brexit vote which has plunged England into economic, political and constitutional turmoil. As Alanna's coach who is from St. Vincent jokingly said, "After Brexit and losing to Iceland, now England must exit the world.' This is a profound statement about a once so powerful colonial empire where the sun never set on its vast holdings and colonies.

Alanna says that if the opportunity presents itself in the future, she would strongly consider playing for Dominica. She resides in Washington DC with her sister Sari, parents Emanuel and Chrissie together with her Lhasa Apso dog named Chino and unfriendly cat Lakey.


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