Sports

Reggae Girl Chinyelu Asher dreams of playing in World Cup

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 12, 2018

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MCALLEN, USA — It is natural for players to dream big and have high expectations.

Chinyelu Asher is no different.

Asher, who has enjoyed some amount of success throughout her career, is eagerly hoping that this cycle will be the big break for Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz programme.

With a championship win with Colombian club Independiente Santa Fe FC, and a Champions League round-of-16 appearance with Kazakhstani club BIIK Kazygurt under her belt, the 25-year-old is now intent on bridging the gap internationally with qualification to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup.

“I feel like I have done some things in my career, but I haven't gone to a World Cup before and that is every player's dream. So it would mean lot for me personally, but more so knowing that it would be the first time in history for this programme.

“Also, knowing what it would have taken for a country like ours to even reach the World Cup would be more rewarding, as it relates to the amount of resources that we have. It would also provide the publicity that we need to lay a good foundation to keep building on,” Asher told the Jamaica Observer.

Even though she has never been singled out as the star of the Reggae Girlz team since she came to the fore at the Under-20 level in 2012, the bubbly Asher doesn't mind sailing under the radar of most football fans.

Instead, Asher, whose father in Jamaican and mother Cameroonian, is one of those players who merely take pride in representing the country and its people to the best of her ability.

“Playing at the U-20 level, you know, you are not committed to any team, and my mom was born in Canada and raised in Cameroon, so technically I could have pursued Canada as well. But I had a vision, I guess, for where this programme could go and I really wanted to be a part of it.

“Growing up, the way that I immerse myself in my Jamaican heritage was always football. That is how I learn my patois and all, and so it felt right when the opportunity came to me and I never looked back,” she shared.

The exciting player, who initially came in as a winger, brings a high level of flair and pace to the set-up, though she has been operating primarily as an attacking midfielder in recent times.

Despite that, the former Purdue University stalwart is keen on playing her part to ensure the Reggae Girlz complete a historic qualification to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in France, via the Concacaf Women's Championships here.

“It has been a journey with highs and lows for sure, but that is what you get when you are a part of a federation that does not have as much financial and social media support to kind of get our journey out there. But it has been good,” Asher declared.

She continued: “It has helped propel and market me as a footballer, and it definitely provided a good platform for me internationally to be an ambassador of what Jamaican football can be, so other teams from professional environment will want players from our country.

“So it is exciting to see us do well and see some of the seeds that we have planted as players bear fruit. Because we have done a lot of work, taken initiative and done our own fund-raising outside of the JFF (Jamaica Football Federation) just to make this historical run as fruitful as it can be and as influential as it can be for the other players to come.”

Finally, Asher, who also had a professional stint with Washington Spirit, credited the team's quality, professionalism, and chemistry for their success rate thus far, as they prepared to wrap up a semi-final berth with victory against Cuba yesterday.

“I think this is the best group of girls that this programme has ever seen, and one of the top attributes of this team is our chemistry off the field, because we are drawing players from all over the place and that chemistry is what wins games.

“We don't have a lot of camps and practice games like Mexico and US, so we have really built that dynamic in a way that translates on the field,” Asher reasoned.

“So, because of that I feel like there is a lot we can do because we have done so much for so little. We have proven ourselves against some really good sides and every team is intimidated by us because they don't know our potential and that is the scary thing, so I expect us to do well and I really think we can go all the way,” she ended.

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