by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
When Gabrielle Brodie left New Zealand in 2011 to attend Newberry College in South Carolina to play for the schools women's soccer team, she said goodbye to her twin sister Rachel.
Both had been soccer stars and this would be the first time that they would not be playing on the same team.
Gabrielle would go on to earn First Team All-South Atlantic Conference and is now playing professional soccer in Australia.
Rachel, meanwhile, would remain back in New Zealand, "I wanted to focus on earning money, so I could leave home and find my own place."
It's not that Rachel did not have the opportunities offered.
Mackinder Singh, then head coach of the St. Thomas University Tommies women's soccer team in Fredericton, New Brunswick, had reached out to Rachel to come to Canada at the same time period as Gabrielle, but unfortunately, according to Singh, the school did not have the financial assistance for international student/athletes.
Singh, who was instrumental in landing Gabrielle her ride at Newberry College, knew the Brodie twins well, as he had coached them when they were nine and 10 years –of-age.
Arriving in Canada 10 years ago, Singh was well-known in his native New Zealand, having coached the New Zealand and Malaysia National Teams while leading the New Zealand Universities Women's National Team in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Arriving at Olds College to coach the Broncos men's and women's soccer/futsal teams, Singh recruited New Zealand goalie Morgan Ashworth for 2015.
"I was listening to Morgan (Ashworth) talk about how excited she was going to play soccer in Canada," said Rachel, who at the time was working at a warehouse distribution centre. "I started to get a little bit jealous. I did not grasp how big an opportunity it was. She was talking about how much fun it would be to play soccer in a different country and a different atmosphere.
"I had also been a bit jealous when (twin sister) Gabrielle went to South Carolina. I would have gone with her but I thought at the time, it was best perhaps we go our separate ways anyways."
At the age of 23, Rachel decided it was time for herself to have a change and took a chance; contacting Singh to see if the offer was still on the table for her to play post-secondary soccer in Canada.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Playing midfield, Rachel, standing 5-foot-4, is currently enrolled in Business Administration (Sports Management) and has seen the Broncos improve each season.
In 2015 their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) record was 5 losses and 5 ties while in 2016 it was 5 wins, 4 losses and 1 tie. Currently in the 2017 ACAC campaign, the Bronco's women's soccer side sports an impressive 5 wins 1 loss and 1 tie.
"The caliber of soccer in the ACAC is a lot more competitive," said Rachel, who has notched a team high eight goals this season. "It is a lot more professional here."
Rachel said her future goal is to, "Go back home to New Zealand and plan getting a job either in the food industry or animal rescue."
She admits to missing the island country of 4.5 million people.
"I just miss how small it is. You can go to the beach and you can go to the mountains, all in a matter of one or two hours. Everything is so close to get to. I miss the culture and the people. It is not such vast a land like here, where it takes forever to get to A to B."
Of Rachel, her coach Singh says: "She is an excellent player and leader. It is nice to bring players from New Zealand to Canada and have them play with us."