Last week Sophie Abela caught Malta’s attention after she won the Regional Basketball Championships in the US together with her team at the Otero Junior College. We got in touch to get to know what the experience has been like for her.
Sophie’s story with basketball had kicked off early on when she was just 5-years-old. Funnily enough, it was football that first piqued her interest to start a sport. “It all started as I used to go watch my brother play football, and wanted to try out a new sport.”
Ever since that initial spark, Sophie has kept playing and made a name for herself in the local Basketball scene and beyond. At 16 she had her first experience playing abroad in Italy. At 17 she helped Malta secure the Bronze in the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship and was also voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
These experiences abroad shed light on some major differences between Malta and abroad. “While in Malta most people are involved in sports as a hobby; abroad, it’s a lifestyle and a career,” Sophie admitted. So, when she understandably leapt at the opportunity to study and play in the US.
Following her great plays abroad, multiple news sites, as well as her coaches, were sharing her highlight video. Soon after got her SATs done in Malta and leapt at the opportunity to go to school in the US.
Her shift from Malta to the US was complete when she started studying at Otero Junior College and playing on their basketball team. Fortunately there were other internationals on the team so it made the experience easier for Sophie.
To be honest, no one really has ever heard of Malta, so when I explain to them I just say a little island under Italy.
In the beginning, Sophie admitted that there was some schoolyard gossip; “Being that we were the internationals and also part of the starting 5, there was some talk. But this never affected us.” Cut to now, Winning the Regional Championship means that all her late nights and sacrifices for the past 2 years have been all worth it.
With the Nationals coming up now Sophie is more motivated than ever to continue pursuing her career in basketball further and we can’t but wish her the best of luck!