Cadijah Mars has accomplished many of her goals as an outstanding national footballer and soon-to-be University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus graduate. But the national utility player has one ultimate goal, and that is to be a motivator to young females in Barbados.
The 22-year-old from Belmont Road, St. Michael, has already began charting her course in that direction with a seat on the Barbados Football Association Women’s Committee alongside chairperson Nicole McKenzie, Neil Matthews and fellow national teammate Soraya Toppin- Herbert.
“I want to help the generation below me, especially females, to let them see they too like the males, have opportunities and guide them where football is concerned.
“For me, at this age, I think it is a big step to be part of a decision-making committee for football in my country. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the committee, and with my knowledge in the sports and experience as a player, I hope to help improve football in my country and inspire other females.
“We are behind [in football], but eventually we will get there once things are done the way it’s expected to be done; we need some improvements. What we need to focus on is young females and create a programme where we could have the training and build them up from there because that is the future,” Mars said.
She was born into a football family where two of her uncles Dwayne Mars and Walton Burrowes both represented Barbados at the highest level.
Mars made her debut in 2014 for Barbados at the World Cup qualifiers in Puerto Rico at 17-years-old and currently has 12 international games under her belt in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football and FIFA competitions.
Not just attentive on the football field but also knowledgeable in the classroom, Mars will graduate later this year with honours from the University of the West Indies with a Bachelor’s in Sports Science.
Initially, it was not the actual journey Mars wanted for herself because her childhood dream was to become a paediatrician.
However, looking back, Mars is satisfied with what she has accomplished as a student-athlete at UWI having helped the Blackbirds team to win the BFA women’s championship for three consecutive years in 2015, 2107 and 2018.
Additionally, she has received several individual awards as a student-athlete for best goalkeeper, vice-chancellor’s female Athlete of the Year in 2018 and listed among those on the first ever Dean’s sports honours list with an acquired GPA of 3.62.
“Initially wanted to be a paediatrician but as I got older I started to drift towards sports, and I figured that sports science would be a better route for me as an athlete. Persons that are involved in sports I would recommend them to do the degree because it is split into three – management, coaching and exercise physiology. The three of them would help you to go to three different directions of sports, and they are all beneficial in the end. I do two out of the three right now, most people chose only one, but I do exercise physiology and coaching,” Mars explained.
Though her university life began rough, Mars noted the process became a lot easier with the help and guidance of those in the Faculty of Sports at Cave Hill.
“For me, it started fairly rough because I came straight from secondary school [Lester Vaughan and sixth form at the Lodge School], so it was tough to grasp the difference between secondary school and university level of teaching. But once I got the gist, I understood but still had to make a lot of sacrifices and make a lot of drastic changes in my life in terms of the way I looked at certain things with the help of people at university,” Mars said.