‘Phenomenal Woman’ is one of my favourite poems by Dr Maya Angelou – each stanza ends with the phrase, “I am a woman, phenomenally”. The moment you meet Nikeisha ‘Nikki’ Felix you are enveloped by her infectious personality, and generous spirit; she is simply a phenomenal woman.
At age 11, Nikeisha moved with her family from St Joseph to the tightly knit North Coast community of La Fillette Village. The change she described as drastic; it was a rural life, farming and fishing. “There were no sporting activities in the village when I was growing up other than football.”
It was during her time as a student at Curepe Junior Secondary (now St Joseph Secondary), Jennifer Frank, a netball coach at the school, encouraged her to become involved in netball. Describing herself on the court as determined, disciplined, and dominant in the air, she transitioned to playing club netball for Arima Ball Masters. At age 15, recognising that there was a greater need for community sporting activities, Nikeisha began to coach other interested girls and women after school.
As she began her family, in order to provide an outlet for her children to become involved in sport, she coached in north-coast primary schools introducing football, netball, and cricket and organising competitions so pupils could display their skills.
In 2014, she founded The North Coast Sports Academy, a registered non-profit with a vision to develop programmes to help young people find a better path, a safe haven from some of the negative influences in their environment. She declares emphatically, “My decision was inspired by God. He gave me the mandate to be more, and to do more; my greatest satisfaction is not financial gain, but to help create joy, and being of service.”
The organisation recently received US$5,000 in grant funding to implement a community-based project under the Digicel Foundation’s Extraordinary Projects Impacting Communities-EPIC initiative. She was overjoyed as she believes that this type of support helps to continue to sow positive seeds in our north-coast communities.
Nikeisha’s story is one of perseverance and unwavering faith in the north-coast youth. She says that villages are affected by high unemployment, teenage pregnancies, high school dropouts and the drug trade. She is convinced that the academy’s mission is to bring greater unity to this area.
“Even though we are small fishing communities, there are subtle rivalries among members of different villages; perhaps it has always been a matter of pride, but at times, it presents challenges when seeking the best opportunities for advancement.”
She says, “We continue to innovate to attract and retain younger members. As a result, we began to include an after-school homework programme, environmental conservation, workshops on career development as we felt that we had to be more holistic in our approach in empowering children.”
Nikeisha believes that there have been incremental changes in the lives of the children, especially where attitudes and disposition toward authority is concerned. They are more positive, and believe in themselves. “This encourages us because our emphasis will always be on the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of our young people.”
If you want to support Nikeisha, contact her at 744-1245| firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamila Gamero is a triathlete and former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club in Spain. She is the mother of two boys, Tishad and Akim, and the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes.