Naomi Barkoye, a 17-year-old Queen’s College student, is among Guyana’s top performers at the 2022 Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations. Her academic scorecard includes 14 Grade One passes and a single Grade Two pass.
Beyond that, you’d find her record as a national youth cricketer equally impressive. Earlier this year, she represented Guyana in the Cricket West Indies Women’s Under 19 Rising Star T20 championships.
In the first matchup of the tournament, Guyana’s women beat Barbados’ by nine wickets- comfortably chasing 62 runs. And it was Barkoye who piloted the chase with 25 not out from 36 balls.
Perhaps what’s more impressive is that the young cricketer was immersed in her cricketing exploits, smack-dab, in the middle of her CSEC exams- something not very many students might be willing to ‘chance’.
This wasn’t a concern for her since, as she puts it, balancing school and extracurricular activities was no big challenge.
“To separate academics and sports, it’s ridiculous because they complement each other. It keeps you grounded, it keeps you healthy mentally and physically,” Barkoye posited during an interview with the News Room.
She added, “The extra-curricular activities were just something I did to sort of take away the pressure from studying.
“It wasn’t a lot of pressure, it was just enough that you knew that you needed a break.”
Cricket was not the only sport or extracurricular activity she participated in. She dabbled in basketball, table tennis, debating and chess. It was pretty much anything that could keep her interest, she said.
And she ensured that her study regimen was not burdensome or overly rigorous. Barkoye said she avoided the sleepless nights and studied when she knew she would be most productive- that is, early in the mornings or just after school.
So what now?
Though the young woman believes that she has a knack for balancing several things at once, Barkoye does not feel as though she has to plan her entire future immediately.
Next up for Barkoye could be law, economics, professional cricket- or a combination of those interests. Whatever it is, she thinks she’s ready for the pace.
While she continues to pursue her interests, she has a strong support system behind her that is eager to see many more young women follow in her footsteps.
Her parents Samuel and Tamika Barkoye emphasise that their daughter has always been disciplined and motivated.
As such, their confidence in her has been unwavering. If she wanted to write 15 subjects, they’d support it; if she wanted to play cricket, again, they’d support it.
“The focus is on her and once she achieves the goals that she has set, we are happy,” Mr. Barkoye said during the interview with the News Room.
On the cricket side of things, Neil Barry, who is the President of the Georgetown Cricket Association and a key player in Barkoye’s development, believes that the discipline the teenager has in balancing her books and extracurriculars is one that should be emulated by many more youths.
He also believes that she is the perfect example of how sports and academics complement each other, and as such, should not be seen as competing with each other.