Kayla Franchesca is an International ice hockey player who plays for her country of birth the Philippines. She plays primarily as a forward left winger, where speed is of the essence. Domestically She made her debut during the 2011 –2012 season in the MIHL (Manila Ice Hockey League) where she was the only female to play in the entire league during that season. Currently she lives in Sydney Australia where she plays for New South Wales. Kayla’s greatest achievement to date came when she was able to represent her country in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia in 2017.
Kayla told us that her parents separated when she was about 11 years old but that she always kept a close bond between her and both her parents and though the break up of her family wasn’t easy, they both taught her things in life that helped her deal with the difficult circumstances that she had to deal with while growing up. Kayla’s passion for sports and creativity came from her dad, an artist and athlete, while much of her inspiration to succeed came from her mother who excelled in the business world, while raising Kayla as a single mum and always reminding her to look at and see the positive things in life as well as be kind to everyone she met.
Kayla started playing Ice hockey when she was 6 years old. She loved skating and chose the sport because she wanted to be different. Everyone assumed that little girls who wanted to be on the ice and compete should choose figure skating but Kayla knew in her heart she wanted to be unique. She said she knew that she wanted to play Ice Hockey at international level from the moment her Uncle Carl Montano, who was her also her first coach took her under his wing and caused her to fall in love with the sport even more.
Kayla said that as a young girl starting out, not everyone was so positive about her chances of making it big in the sport and accepting that she rightfully belonged in such an aggressive arena. Kayla recalled; “When I was about 9 years old I would get bullied by the boys that I play with. There were only a few girls that played ice hockey back then so we had to play with the boys. They would pull my hair or trip me on the ice but I stuck it through and 13 years later I ended up growing up with those same boys and they are now my best friends and I consider them family”.
To fight through all that negativity when many others would have given up and to keep improving to the level she’s at now wasn’t easy. Kayla said she realised training hard and believing in herself was key. She said “That It’s important to train your body but to me, training your mind is number one. Because it applies not only in sport, but in life. How you see yourself and everything that surrounds you makes a huge difference. I found that when I thought positive and confident about myself, I played and performed better. And that’s what’s helped me a lot in improving in my sport. “
When asked about her faith in God and how it had helped her face some of the challenges as a child Kayla said “My faith in God has always reminded me that He has a plan for me and that no matter how low I feel, I can always look up high to Him and know that I’m not alone. That always kept me sane and it always makes me feel calm to know that I have Jesus as my best friend.”
Kayla also mentioned how even now as an adult facing so many obstacles and struggles being in Australia and away from her comfort zone, having had to leave family, friends and team mates and starting a new life, playing in a new team in a completely different country where everyone is bigger than her and more developed in the sport is really difficult but that these are all obstacles she has been able to overcome by being grateful for every new opportunity and knowing God brought her to Australia for a reason.
Even now we know many of you will relate to being separated from those close to you and family members you love and so Kayla really hoped you would be able to take something positive from her story and from the opportunities we hope to have in the future to get to know her a little better. In closing though, her final message for you all was this. “Always believe in yourself and know that there’s a brighter side to anything. Thinking negative thoughts never helps you nor anyone. If you’re happy and you believe that you can be successful, you attract that happiness”.
Kayla’s immediate aims are to win Gold Medals at the IIHF World Championships as well as the Southeast Asian Olympic Games with the dream of making it to the Winter Olympics sometime in the future. Well we hope to be able to keep up with everything that’s happening in Kayla’s world from here on in to see exactly how she gets on and we’ll be hoping and praying that she can indeed achieve everything and more that she’s believing for.