Kimika Forbes, a University of Maine at Fort Kent senior, advances with her Trinidad and Tobago women's national soccer team to the FIFA World Cup fourth place qualifying match against Ecuador this Saturday, November 8, in Ecuador. Due partially to Forbes' attention-grabbing efforts as goalkeeper for the team, Trinidad and Tobago still has the opportunity to become the first Caribbean team to qualify for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada.
Forbes is putting Fort Kent on the map as “a role model for what going to a small campus can do for you,” said Ray Phinney, UMFK associate dean of student life and development. “We are so proud of her.”
Forbes said, whenever she had the opportunity, she wore her UMFK shirt during the national team practices. “I appreciate all the support, coming from such a small school,” she added. “I want to thank everyone who said kind words to me.”
Referring to receiving national and international praise from well-known players after her superlative goalkeeping performances, she said, “Words can't explain how I felt.”
Forbes has been dominating on the international scene, with her game-directing CONCACAF showing garnering accolades with descriptors like “a fortress” and “simply unbeatable,” and public opinion ranking her now as one of the world's best players across all players in both men and women's soccer.
Forbes, who said she also trained with the men at UMFK and asked never to be “babied” in her match-ups against them, described her philosophy: “I always train hard. How I train, that's how I play.” She added, “I want to be the best. I want to be classed among the best.”
UMFK President Wilson G. Hess said, "Kimika is an extraordinary athlete. She seems to have carved out a path to greatness while she was at UMFK – as an athlete, as a student, and as a person. Her success shows why students come from around the world to our campus in pursuit of their future."
“I am confident Kimika will take the knowledge and experience she gained from our coaching staff and faculty and continue to apply them successfully to guide others along their own journeys of self discovery."
The energetic and cheerful young woman said that she sees her role on the Trinidad and Tobago national team as helping to keep the team positive and the energy high.
In a 1-0 match on October 15 against the No. 1 ranked U.S. team, who had outscored Caribbean countries 54-2 in the last seven matches, Forbes staunchly held off the Americans in their blitz against the T and T goal; the world power posted a 29-7 advantage in shots in that game. In a following semifinals game against Costa Rica on October 24, in which Trinidad and Tobago lost the game in penalty kicks, the Costa Ricans posted a 14-4 advantage in shots. And in a similar vein, when Trinidad and Tobago lost 4-2 in extra time against Mexico on October 26, the Mexican team had a 19-3 advantage in shots on goal.
Forbes said, in her lilting Caribbean accent, “We fought with heart and determination.”
About the upcoming game against Ecuador, she said, “There is no room for disappointment.” She added that she doesn't want to end up, after the game, with a lot of “should haves.”
For the moment, the UMFK student said she is refocussing on school. She is hoping for a future in professional soccer, but also is studying to be a physical education teacher, and has already acquired her national coaching “D” license for 13-14 year-old athletes and teams. She said she loves to work with kids, and expressed regret that she was unable to give more attention to the children who were calling out her name in Philadelphia after the game against the U.S.
According to SoccerAmerica, Randy Waldrum, who is the head coach for both the Trinidad and Tobago senior women's national team and the Houston Dash professional women's soccer team, indicated the he may invite Forbes to try out for the Houston Dash.
UMFK Women's Soccer Coach Lucas Levesque and UMFK Athletic Director Bill Ashby said they believe her success reflects well on the school's athletic department. While playing for UMFK, Forbes was a two-time USCAA All American player and led the women's team to the USCAA national championships in 2013. She posted a 14-1-1 record with the Bengals.
“It's hard to believe she was playing for Fort Kent last year,” said Ashby.
Levesque said that, although Forbes' soccer playing is and was stellar, “The big strides she made here is as a human being. She's grown into a young woman who's thinking of a career and being a professional, in whatever field she chooses. She's very grounded; she's very humble. [The attention on a star] could have hurt our growth; instead she took us to the next level.”
Ashby said, “She's got a good head on her shoulders.”
About what Forbes' success does for UMFK, Ashby said, “This shows that soccer at UMFK is the real thing,” and Levesque added, “It speaks volumes for the type of athletic department we have.”
Ashby echoed the sentiment that appears to be universal, saying, “We are very proud of her.”