Sports

It was a great year for me and the team — Shaw

Reggae Girlz striker says awards would not come without input of teammates

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor
williamss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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Khadija “Bunny” Shaw rarely jumps for joy unless she has put the ball into the back of the net. That, more than anything else, is what she lives for.

So when she was named The Guardian newspaper's Footballer of the Year for 2018, she barely showed any emotion. For the Jamaican striker is a rare and special human being who always puts team over self.

Shaw's role in Jamaica's historic qualification to the Fifa Women's World Cup has caught the eyes of not only her compatriots, but that of the world.

And for that, the awards and recognition keep flowing in, with the latest coming just days ago when Concacaf named her and teammate Jody Brown in its Female Best XI.

In addition, she was runner-up for the Concacaf Female Player of the Year to the American Alex Morgan, plus she was adjudged to have scored the third best goal in 2018, her effort ranking behind two male players.

Reacting to the latest accolades, the 21-year-old Shaw said she was “grateful for an amazing year”, but conceded that being named Female Player of the Year would be something she could get used to.

“It is not all the time people are going to get awarded for the hard work that they have done… Alex Morgan is a good player, and while I am a bit disappointed (not beating her), I am just looking forward for a bigger and better year,” she said.

Looking back at 2018, Shaw believes that her year of success ran parallel to the achievements of the team as a whole, and it is the latter that brings her the most joy.

“I would not only say it was a great year for me, but also for the team… and yes, we (including Jody Brown) were selected as part of the best 11 in Concacaf, but if it was not for our teammates being there every step of the way, we wouldn't have accomplished that, so I give credit to my teammates as well,” said the University of Tennessee senior.

Shaw, who grew up in the tough John's Road area of Spanish Town, said more than anything else, she was overjoyed that coach Hue Menzies was named Concacaf Women's Coach of the Year.

“I am very happy that he got that award because he had personally sacrificed a lot of things to put us in the position to qualify for the World Cup. This just speaks volumes of all the hard work he and the staff on a whole have put in,” she told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Shaw, who attended St Jago High School, is a leading candidate for the Sportswoman of the Year award, Jamaica's most prestigious sporting honour.

But winning it, she notes, would be more symbolic than anything else, to show other young Jamaicans that hard work can pay off in the end.

“It would be an honour to receive that award knowing how important it is, especially in Jamaica, and it would show how hard I have worked to get it, and other young people can see the value of hard work,” Shaw said.

The striker, who scored 19 goals, the most by any player during the World Cup qualification phase, vowed that she will stay true to her humble nature despite her good fortune of late.

“I will forever remain humble because I know I could have less and I will always be grateful because I know I have had less. As I said earlier, I give credit to my teammates and coaching staff because they played a big part in all my achievements,” notes Shaw in self-deprecatingly.

The burly player, who was introduced to the national programme as a precocious 14-year-old, quickly switched to an area where her true passion lives — on the field of play.

With a one-week training camp under way in St Ann to kick-start the rigorous preparation programme, Shaw underlined the importance of players coming together as often as possible.

“The camps are very important as it puts us in a position to compete at the World Cup… they will help us to grow as a team and get familiar with the different styles of play that each of the players possesses. Also, team chemistry is one of the most important things to have in a team, so having camps and international friendlies will help us,” she shared.

The Girlz will have their first practice games against World Cup-bound Chile in Kingston and Montego Bay on February 28 and March 3.

Shaw is already relishing the prospects.

“It will be a huge test, as will all the other international friendlies. These games (against Chile) will help to give us a benchmark to see where we are as a team and help us to improve on the mistakes and build on our craft,” she reasoned.


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