Malta’s bowling rising star Sara Xuereb is set to embark on an opportunity of a lifetime after she was awarded the chance to pursue her career in the United States.
The young bowler received a full scholarship by the Savannah College of Art and Design to join their bowling team in Atlanta, Georgia.
For many years, Xuereb has been earmarked as the natural successor to Malta’s top female bowler Sue Abela who has been dominating the local scene for over four decades.
In fact, since breaking into the scene ten years ago, the 19-year-old has enjoyed multiple success both on the local and international scene.
These include winning the gold medal at the Mediterranean Bowling Championships and the Small Nations Cup as well as becoming the youngest ever national champion at the age of 14.
Xuereb, who last week further underlined her status as Malta’s leading youth player after lifting an eighth successive U-23 championship, told The Sunday Times of Malta that the opportunity came about a few years back when coach Rick Vogelesang put her CV on the table of a number of US coaches who started to following her on social media.
“Everything started at the European Championships in 2015 when my coach Rick Vogelesang made some inquiries for me among a number of US coaches,” Xuereb said.
“Then I started to post my achievements on social media and I received several offers from a few colleges in the US.
“Then Michael McNeelly, who is the head coach at the Savannah College of Art and Design, approached me on social media.
“McNeely told me that he had been following my achievements in Europe and asked me if I wanted to move to
Atlanta and represent the university in the collegiate tournaments.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t turned down and I can’t wait to head to the US.”
At the moment, Xuereb is forced to remain in Malta as all bowling training and competitions in the United States are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is hopeful that she will travel to the US in March and join her new team-mates.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 pandemic I cannot move to the US just yet,” Xuereb said.
“I’m currently taking online academic lessons only as all bowling training and competitions are currently suspended in the US.
“But hopefully, come next March I will be able to travel to the US and continue my career there.
“I think to be part of a team in a new environment is a blessing as I’m sure that all the other bowlers in our university side will help me settle down.
“Once I will start to take part in the competitions it will give me the necessary exposure to attract sponsors and, hopefully, when I finish my university studies I will be able to start playing in other competitions and enter the professional tour in the US.”
On his part, Rick Vogelesang said that this is a chance of a lifetime for Sara Xuereb to pursue her dream of a professional career.
“This is a golden opportunity for Sara,” the Dutchman said.
“Most of the coaches that are in the US are all former professional players of the highest calibre and Sara will learn a lot from this experience.
“The US is the land of bowling and the sport has become very popular at College level in recent years with more than 20 teams involved.
“Sara will be up against some high-level bowlers and I have no doubt that if she continues to work hard she can surely make it and go on and play on the professional tour.”
Vogelesang said that Sarah Xuereb has been the one bowler that has opened the door for Maltese young bowlers to compete internationally and he hopes that her move to the US will inspire other players to follow her path.
“Sara Xuereb and Matthew Magro were the two bowlers that opened the doors for Maltese youth to start competing abroad,” Vogelesang said.
“Before they came into the scene, young players were not encouraged or supported to compete in international competitions.
“Then, when they entered the National School of Sport, George Micallef, who was the school head at the time,
helped us to go abroad and in fact we competed in the European Youths in Finland with great success and since then more youngsters continue to play in international tournaments.
“Now I hope that this move will have a similar effect and more young bowlers will be inspired by Sara’s achievements in the US and will work hard on their game to try and pursue a professional career in the United States too.”