She’s tall, super-talented and hails from the island nation of Jamaica _ but don’t go comparing Malysha Kelly.
The 1.85m defender will be the second Jamaican international to suit up for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, following in the footsteps of her close friend Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who has spent the past five years with the franchise.
“I’m definitely my own person. She [Fowler-Reid] is a superstar and I appreciate the fact that she’s really paved the way for us girls to play internationally, but I’m not putting pressure on myself to be like Jae. I’m just taking it one step at a time and just being me,” Kelly said.
Aiming to inject a distinctive flair into the Steel ranks, Kelly has set herself some big goals for 2018.
“I’m definitely looking forward to being the person that I’ve always meant to be. I’ve always struggled with inconsistency but with this team, which I watched last year because I was following Jhaniele, it was quite consistent and I was very impressed by that,” she said.
“I hope that being here I will be able to actually achieve that as well, and bring in something different in terms of how I play _ not taking away from what I have been learning but just adding to it and giving the team something unique.”
She’s eager to build new partnerships with the defence trio of Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Abby Erwood and Wendy Frew.
“I’ve always watched New Zealand and how they play the game. The style is one I’ve always wanted to learn because they’re so in sync.”
After arriving in January, Kelly was immediately thrust into pre-season preparation.
“We did jump into training.
“Personally, I do fear some of the training sessions but so far it’s been really good. It is quite different in terms of the skill work _ it’s quite intense.”
Relocating across the globe to Invercargill didn’t faze Kelly, who already felt a connection to the city. She was also team-mates with former Steel captain Liana Leota in Manchester while competing in the UK Superleague.
“I was really looking forward to coming here and it’s been great so far,”she said.
“This is my first time in Invercargill and the culture and the environment is quite different. I’ve been well taken care of, kudos to Wendy Frew, and I’m looking forward to experiencing more of it.”
She’s already ticked off several new experiences, including time spent in “beautiful” Te Anau.
“I’ve been on boat rides before but I’ve never been on the biscuit or tried water-skiing, so that was really fun.”