Jacksonville, FL. — Keilani Contreras, 11, became the first girl in the history of the Arlington Football Association to score a touchdown, her coaches tell Action News Jax.
“I was inspired by my brother ever since I was little,” said Contreras. “And one day my Dad said, ‘Do you want to play football?’ So, I said, ‘Sure!’ So, he signed me up and ever since that, I loved it!”
The ESYFL, a local spring youth football league, says she is the second girl in the league’s existence to score a touchdown.
Contreras had a receiving touchdown Saturday in the Arlington Seminoles’ 26-0 win.
“Yeah, that was like my first touchdown,” said Contreras. “... I felt amazing. Like, I felt really proud of myself.”
Contreras wears the number eight on her jersey in honor of her late eight-year-old friend, Deaurra Nealy.
Action News Jax reported in January when Nealy died of MIS-C, a condition linked to COVID-19.
“I wear the number eight because my best friend, she was like my little sister, she passed away and she passed away at the age of eight,” said Contreras. “And so, when I was wearing eight, I felt like I had to make her proud, and have to show my honor for her. So, I made that touchdown and I made sure I made that touchdown, and nothing else could stop me there.”
Not only has Contreras lost a close friend this year, she was present when a man started shooting at a Youth Football tournament in Greenland Park on March 14. No one was hurt in the shooting.
Contreras says it was a scary day, but she’s motivated to make history locally.
“Girl power, I feel like that’s a lot because, girls sometimes they’re scared to go out for stuff and sometimes boys might be like, ‘Oh, you can’t do this because you’re a girl. You can’t do that because you’re this,’ or something like that. Well, look at me, I’m a football player!” said Contreras.
Her parents say she’s not only a football player, but a gifted artist, and has straight A’s in school.