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Oh, Mercy!

Mercy Myles, a native of Accra, Ghana, is a senior midfielder with the St. F.X. X-Women soccer team. Richard MacKenzie
Mercy Myles, a native of Accra, Ghana, is a senior midfielder with the St. F.X. X-Women soccer team. Richard MacKenzie - Corey LeBlanc

Myles stars for St. F.X. X-Women soccer team

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

The softness of her voice belies the noise she makes on the pitch.    

For the past four seasons, fans of the St. F.X. X-Women – and Atlantic University Soccer, in general – have been shouting out about the abilities of Mercy Myles.    

The native of Accra, Ghana is a senior midfielder with the varsity program on the St. F.X. campus.    

“It wasn’t easy – there were a few times that I thought about going home,” Myles said, reflecting on arriving in Canada.    

She started laughing when asked about her early memories.    

“The weather – I was so cold,” Myles said.    

She wore a bulky winter jacket during her first X-Women practice.    

“Everyone else was complaining about how hot it was,” she added.    

A hint of doubt in her voice, Myles noted she “finally got used to it,” when it came to adapting to the Canadian climate.    

The differences she encountered – cultural and otherwise – didn’t end with the temperature; the food lacked the spices and flavours she grew up with.    

Nevertheless, Myles enjoyed the “delicious meals” provided in the home of Kay Myers, where she continues to live.    

“I am so happy to be still there,” she said.    

Myles not only found great food, but also a motherly figure – one offering discipline and support – along with an adopted Canadian family.    

“They have been everything to me,” she said.    

They were integral in helping her adjust to small town life in rural Nova Scotia.    

Myles loves the quiet, along with the friendliness of the people, noting how much “hospitality” she has encountered and how much it has meant to her.      

“It has been amazing,” she said.    

As for a part of Canadian culture she has yet to experience, but has on her to-do list, Myles said skating.    

“It scares me a little bit,” Myles said, noting her amazement with the skill shown by players with the X-Women hockey team.

The ‘gift’    

Describing having ability in soccer as a “gift” in her country, Myles started playing as six-year-old.    

“I love it,” she said, in talking about her instantaneous passion for the international football.    

By the time she was 8, she added, “bigger dreams” began to develop; thoughts of a future in the game and what opportunities it could provide.    

With more coaching and training, Myles continued to develop her game, one that eventually led to a spot on the international stage as a member of the Ghanaian national team.    

She scored a goal in semi-final action against Algeria in the 2011 All-Africa Games, while also taking the pitch in the FIFA U17 World Cup and two U20 World Cups.    

A few years ago, Myles started to focus on not only continuing to play, but also getting an education. With the help of a scout, she explored opportunities, including NCAA ones in the United States.    

When an unforeseen issue with her eligibility arose, she looked north of the border, where X-Women head coach Graham Kennedy was one of those who expressed an interest in bringing the now All-Canadian on board.    

“I thought ‘why not?’ and I ended up here,” Myles said.    

Since that first day donning a winter coat on the practice pitch, she has left an indelible mark, sandwiching a second-team AUS all-star selection between a pair of first-team nods, in her first three conference campaigns.    

 “I am really blessed to work with a player of her quality; it has been amazing,” Kennedy said.    

“She is one of the best [players], maybe the best that I have ever coached.”    

He added Myles is the “finest playmaker” in the conference, if not in the nation.    

Kennedy and his star midfielder reflected on her adjustment to a different style while improving her game each season.    

“I had to make some changes, work on some things,” Myles said, crediting Kennedy for his mentorship.    

He noted her transition from an international to North American style, one which focuses more on the “amount of running.”    

“In her first season, if not her first couple, Mercy was somewhat a liability [defensively], but now she is a stalwart midfield defender,” Kennedy said.    

He added Myles is a “more complete player that she has ever been.”    

“My defending has improved,” Myles said, echoing her head coach’s assessment.    

She also noted the development of her technique, while adjusting to the physicality of AUS soccer.    

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” Myles said of her coaches and teammates.    

As for what she provides to the X-Women program, he said Myles shows her teammates “what excellence really looks like.”    

“I can’t help but marvel at her – she makes everyone better,” Kennedy said, noting her ability “to cover up mistakes.”    

“I think they play a little bit more bravely because they know Mercy can fix it.”    

There is no lack of superlatives when Kennedy talks about Myles.    

“Mercy has incredible humility – she doesn’t play for the attention,” he said.    

Calling her “an absolute artist,” Kennedy noted such praise is widespread.    

“When I speak to other U Sports’ coaches – ones who really understand the game – they are in awe of her,” he said.

‘Still surviving’    

When it comes to the classroom, the human kinetics student said, with a laugh, “I am still surviving.”    

She talked about the work she has had to do on and off the field, including the development of time management and organizational skills – in balancing her commitment to athletics, while also completing assignments and preparing for tests.    

“I have gotten better at balancing things,” Myles added.    

After graduation, she plans to turn her attention to coaching, with the goal of eventually take a spot on the bench with the Ghanaian national team.    

“Maybe we will get the opportunity to play Canada one day,” she said, with a smile.      

But, first thing’s first, Myles is focused on helping lead the X-Women to an AUS championship.    

And, to be sure, with the fall chill in the air as the postseason approaches, she will be keeping that winter jacket handy.

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