Sport

Reggae Girlz continue to revel in World Cup qualification

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


October 17, 2018 will forever be etched in the minds of many, but particularly members of the Reggae Girl'z team.

For most, if not all, it was the day that their childhood dream of qualifying for a Senior Women's World Cup was realised.

They got by Panama 4-2 on penalties, after playing out a 2-2 stalemate in full and extra time in the Concacaf Women's Championship third-place play-off, to become the first Caribbean team to achieve the feat.

The 64th-ranked Reggae Girlz held their composure best from the 12-yard spot on a cold and rainy night in Frisco, Texas, to join reigning champions United States and Canada as the confederation's representatives at the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in France. Panama will have another shot at qualification in a home-and-away play-off against Argentina in November.

The level of hard work and sacrifice made by these players will never truly be understood by those standing on the outside looking in and so, as the emotions ran wild, one could not help but stand in admiration of these patriotic stars.

Backed by a committed and resolute coaching staff, which did its utmost to ensure the dream became a reality, the Girlz forged ahead despite the enormous disparity in rankings, history, funding and support when compared to some of the opponents they faced at the recently concluded championship.

Even after returning home, the celebrations continued with each recollection of their journey, which started in May all the way up to the breathtaking moment when they etched their names in the annals of Jamaica's football history and the world at large.

Goalkeeper Nicole McClure, 25, who pulled off two stunning saves in the dreaded penalty shoot-out, was greeted by her diving photo in a local newspaper as she arrived in Sweden on Thursday.

“It is an honour to be able to represent Jamaica in such a critical moment; I am humbled by the trust the coaches had in me to handle the pressure and I am even more so happy that I was able to deliver at such a crucial time.

“Personally, this means the world to me, it is more than football, the amount of hardships I've endured, the dedication I have to this sport, and sacrifices I've made have all paid off. The love I have for my family and Jamaica cannot be described. This is truly a dream come true,” an emotional McClure told the Jamaica Observer.

“With this achievement, I'm hoping the team will receive the proper recognition we deserve in terms of funding and preparation. I strongly believe we deserve it now more than ever,” she added.

Dominique Bond-Flasza, who scored the winning penalty for the Reggae Girlz, was also overwhelmed by the accomplishment.

“This is a massive accomplishment. every young player dreams about playing in the World Cup, so to actually qualify to play on that stage is surreal. The team and I have worked really hard to get here, so it's nice to see that our hard work has paid off.

“I'm hoping that this will draw more attention to female sports in general and I hope that Jamaica pushes more funds into developing young girls in sports, because there are so many life lessons developed through sports,” the right back, who plies her trade at PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands, noted.

For 16-year-old Jody Brown, who took home the Bright Future Award (young player of the tournament award), the accolade was the icing on the cake.

“It's absolutely an amazing feeling; words can't explain how very proud I am of myself and my teammates. We have been working very hard to qualify, and so this is a great accomplishment for all of us and Jamaica as well.

“The award for me was a bonus, and I think I have more awards to come because the aim is to keep improving and keep working hard as I go forward, and I also hope this accomplishment will change other young girls' lives as it has mine,” the diminutive striker said.

Midfielder Christina Chang, the oldest player in the team at 33, who also converted from the penalty spot for Jamaica, believes the team's success was not just for them, but for women's football in general.

“It's everything I could ever think about and more when I look back at all my two-a-day trainings in between my full- time job, and to know it all paid off is no greater feeling. We made a statement and now we have people's attention, so now we need the funds to take us one step closer to these top teams,” said Chang.

“We are looking to change the future of Jamaica women's soccer, not just for us, but the next generations to come, so that they can have the necessary resources they need to compete. This was not just a victory for us, but women's soccer in a whole.

“It's a dream; a dream from a little girl playing in a park with her dad that grew into a passion and love for the game. And to know now that the little girl's dream has now come through means a life complete,” she added.

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT