Samantha Kenney, a Guam Football Association standout and the recent MVP of the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam Girls Soccer League, will be getting the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to test her mettle and hone her skills with peers in England this summer after her acceptance to Macclesfield FC’s residency program.
Kenney, who also is the Guam U20 captain, will be joining 40 other selected athletes June 20 for the prestigious program, which offers her a chance to hone her soccer skills at the international level.
“Three months ago, I got a text message from Macclesfield FC’s international recruiter stating that they took a look at my Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) profile and asked if I was interested in European soccer,” Kenney said. “I had been interested in opportunities outside of the U.S., so naturally I was interested. … He informed me about a six-week residency program and how it allows athletes to experience a professional footballer lifestyle while trying to attain a spot and scholarship for their International Academy.
According to the program’s online brochure, while hundreds may apply, a maximum of 40 student-athletes will be selected for the six-week residency program. The top players from the program may receive an invitation to Macclesfield FC’s full-time International Residency Program that includes education at one of the club’s partner universities or may be called up to the First Team squad, among other pathways.
Ross Awa, head coach for the Guam U20 women’s team and the GFA assistant technical director, has high expectations for Kenney and the success she can achieve at the next level.
“As the captain of the Guam U20 Women’s National Team, she holds herself accountable, which allows her to perform at the highest level,” Awa said. “There is no doubt that Samantha will one day reach professional status, she is a very humble individual and always works so hard, and this is due to the continued support from her truly amazing family here on the island.”
Kenney is a “role model,” Awa said, adding that she deserves the opportunity to prove herself. He commended her commitment to training and applying concepts in game time.
“She takes the time to analyze every aspect of her game and always wants to improve. I am truly proud of her and I know that she will represent Guam well during her time with Macclesfield FC,” Awa added.
Macclesfield FC’s six-week Residency Program includes five hours of coaching per day, led by UEFA qualified coaches and strength and conditioning coaches, weekly matches against other clubs and youth academies, showcase games against some of Europe’s top prospects in front of respected scouts, unlimited access to the club’s state-of-the-art gym, in-depth video analysis sessions, individual check-in sessions with coaches, additional training sessions run by the club’s First Team manager, weekly recovery and rehabilitation sessions, and full Adidas playing and training kits, among others features. All matches played will be filmed and edited by the club’s Academy Analysis and Media team, which can be utilized in creating professional highlights for future recruitment opportunities, the program brochure states.
Kenney said she believes her affiliation and work with the national program at a young age allowed her the chance to be recognized.
“Whenever I reach out to coaches, I always play the Guam National Team card because it’s unique and diverse,” Kenney said. “Because of the blessing that I’ve had playing on Guam’s Youth National Teams and playing internationally (from a young age), my football resume is quite impressive.
“They’re in the process of recruiting players for their full-time International Program, so, for me, the camp will be both to develop my skill set, as well as to try to make a spot in their women’s program,” added Kenney, an incoming senior at Harvest Christian Academy.
Macclesfield FC works alongside the University of Central Lancashire, providing an educational opportunity for international program athletes. Athletes enrolled at UCLan may earn a degree from various education programs, including Sport Business Management, Nutrition and Exercise Science, Sports Therapy, and Football Studies, among other academic concentrations, the Macclesfield FC Web site states.
Off the pitch, Kenney is also one of Guam’s first-ever AFC Youth Social Responsibility Ambassadors and had been selected as one of ten ambassadors across Asia to conduct a virtual workshop during the Generation Amazing Festival in 2020. The youth festival is part of the Generation Amazing program coordinated by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy with an aim to contribute to the lasting legacy of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Kenney also is working on a program with Special Olympics Guam with the objective to improve sensory perception among its youngest athletes through football-driven activities.
Following her training in England, Kenney also is set to take part in a Guam U20 Women’s National Team training camp in San Diego, California, from July 17-25 before returning to Guam. Kenney plays for the Bank of Guam Lady Strykers in the Bud Light Women’s Soccer League.
Kenney is the daughter of Frank and Josephine Kenney and has one older sister, Sabrina, who also is part of Guam’s national program.