LeiLanni Nesbeth On Move To Chicago & More

January 17, 2024 | 2 Comments

[Written by Stephen Wright]

LeiLanni Nesbeth admits she was “blown away” after being selected by the Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League [NWSL] Draft as she prepares to head to the “Windy City” to start pre-season training next week.

Nesbeth, named the tenth pick in the first round, said she had no idea she was on Chicago’s radar but could not be happier to start her career with the franchise.

The 22-year-old is joining an outfit that finished bottom of the 12-team league last season, with Nesbeth determined to help reverse their fortunes.

“It was surprising because I’d spoken with other teams before the draft but not Chicago,” Nesbeth told Bernews.

Leilanni Nesbeth Bermuda Jan 13 2024

“It was a shocking moment but one I was happy about. I’m excited to meet my team-mates and get pre-season rolling on Tuesday. Hopefully, I can help the team become more successful.”

The attacking midfielder said she explored her options in Europe before opting for the United States as the destination to start her professional career. She believes her style of play is ideally suited to the NWSL.

“I was weighing up my options overseas and the US and it was a personal decision about understanding my game,” said the former Florida State University [FSU] student.

“I’m excited to learn, develop my game, and continue to grow in this league. I wanted to be part of a league moving in the right direction in all aspects.”

Nesbeth, who helped FSU win the NCAA Championship title last month, is confident she can make an immediate impact at Chicago but is under no illusions about the gulf in quality between the college and professional levels.

“I couldn’t be happier about what I’ve accomplished so far; however, my work has just begun,” said the Bermuda national team player.

“I don’t think there’s anything I particularly need to improve to compete. However, I understand the transition from college to professional soccer is massive.

“I need to be consistent and ensure my mentality is strong. I won’t be playing against 20-year-olds anymore; I’ll be up against grown women.

“I’ll need to keep up with the pace of the game and the skill level, so I’ll need to ensure my fitness is up to the required level.”

Initially, Nesbeth did not intend to attend the draft at Anaheim Convention Centre in Anaheim, California, until the NWSL intervened to ensure she was there in person.

“I wasn’t going to go at first, but the NWSL made it possible – I’m super grateful to them,” she added.

“To be there was a great experience, and hearing your name called in a setting like that was unforgettable.”

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Comments (2)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    Well done, LeiLanni!

  2. Mrs Ercinda Sean says:

    We’re so very proud of Leilani and the role model she has become for so many to emulate. Her steadfast family support and dedication to her, I’ve witnessed, started from primary school. They were amazingly involved in her school and education matriculation. Well done to Lei and family all!

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