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Birkirkara forward Kailey Willis joins Hellas Verona

Maltese women’s football continues to export its best talents overseas as youth forward Kailey Willis becomes the latest player to seek pastures new abroad.

Willis, 17, has signed for Serie A Femminile side Hellas Verona for the rest of the 2020/2021 season.

“Having the opportunity to be part of a professional setup abroad is always a unique chance for any athlete,” Willis said.

“It is an experience that will help me develop as a player as it will enable me to improve my characteristics and add more traits to my repertoire.

On the other hand, it will be also a chance for me to be independent and grow as a person as well.”

She will be the sixth Maltese player to feature in the Italian women leagues in this campaign after Haley Bugeja of Sassuolo, Lazio duo Emma Lipman and Rachel Cuschieri, Martina Borg of Sassari Torres and Nicole Sciberras who is at Juventus.

“I believe that women’s football in Malta is flourising and offering more talents ready to try their fortunes overseas,” Willis explained.

“Given the rise of this movement across the world, I believe that this is helping Maltese players to have more opportunities to play football in some of the best leagues and therefore I hope that I won’t be the last one to take this step.”

Despite her young age, Willis has already scored 26 goals in 35 games in two seasons for Malta champions Birkirkara. In her maiden season with the Stripes in 2018/2019, she ended the team’s top scorer with 19 goals. In the previous campaign, halted in the middle due to the coronavirus pandemic, Willis had already netted 7 goals in 12 matches.

During the 2019/2020 season, Willis was also author of a wonderful goal scored in a high-profile friendly against Ireland top-flight side Cork City.

Kailey Willis put Birkirkara ahead with a brilliant long-range effort.

Prior joining the Stripes, Willis had played just one season at senior level with Tarxien Rainbows where she found the net 15 times in 16 appearances.

The 17-year-old forward is already part of the Malta national team pool, even though she is yet to make her debut. She represented her country at youth level, including at U-16’s level where she has a record of 9 goals in 6 games.

She also played for the U-17’s in the recent 2020 UEFA Women’s U-17 European Championship in September 2019.

Hellas Verona are currently in the Italian top-flight, ninth with seven points after their recent 0-0 draw with San Marino. They are relying on several young players for their Serie A campaign including former Inter player Sofia Colombo and Asia Bragonzi from Juventus.

At youth level, Verona are playing in the same Primavera league as Sciberras’ Juventus and Bugeja’s Sassuolo.

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