Sports

Ricketts lauds Girlz, coaching staff

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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MCALLEN, USA — With the senior Reggae Girlz team currently on course for at least a play-off spot for qualification to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts has praised the players and technical staff for their efforts thus far.

Ricketts, who was on hand to witness the Girlz's crucial 1-0 win over Costa Rica, after arriving here on Sunday night, believes the current success of the team in the Concacaf Women's Championship is a step in the right direction for women's football in jamaica.

Jamaica are currently in third place in Group B on three points and a victory against Cuba today would assure them a spot in the semi-final, provided that Canada avoid defeat against Costa Rica. Both games will be played at the HE. Park in Edinburg, Texas at 6:30 pm and 9:00 pm.

“That (Costa Rica game) probably was one of the most important games that our senior women's team would have played; our qualification was hinged on that result because if we had lost, then we would have been out.

“So that victory really was a lifeline for us, but I am very impressed so far and I am extremely elated and hopeful that we will go through. So right now we are in a pretty decent position and we just pray and hope that things would go as it ought to and then we would get a chance to finish in the top four,” Ricketts told the Jamaica Observer.

As it relates to taking the development of women's football in the country to new heights, the president pointed out that his administration has already taken steps to achieve that.

“The first thing that we decided when we got in office is that we must give our females as many chances as is possible and we immediately restarted the parish Under-15 Girls competition and then we sought and got support for the Women's Premier League,” he noted.

“I think our technical department has done very well as it relates to our female programme and it is bearing fruit, so we are hopeful and I think we have a pretty decent coaching staff. In fact, I am very impressed with the level of professionalism that has been shown by the staff here and that certainly will translate into some positive results,” Ricketts added.

That coaching staff is headed by Hue Menzies with the assistance of Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price, along with goalkeeper coach Hubert Busby and fitness coaches Will Hitzelberger and Jason Henry.

“Menzies and Donaldson and Price have done an excellent job and I want to use this opportunity to express on behalf of the JFF our highest regards for what these gentlemen have done. The ultimate will certainly be qualifying for the World Cup and that is the direction in which we are headed right now,” said Ricketts.

He continued: “Our players have also been real ambassadors and I want to laud them and encourage them, they have really represented us well and we are just hopeful that at the end of this tournament, we will be one of those qualifying for World Cup.

“So again, I want to say thanks to all the players and stakeholders everybody who would have contributed to this success, especially to the coaching staff and the Girlz, who have led us with the greatest level of professionalism, creditability and distinction.”

Finally, Ricketts pointed out that to harvest more success in the future the significant development of the local-based players will be a key component, and as such is encouraging those players to keep working and invest as much academically, as they do physically.

This as the current set-up is heavily overseas-based.

“The component of this tournament that took place in Jamaica would have inspired a number of people, especially females, because the Girlz were very dominant and impressive and this certainly would have been a catalyst for our female programme and certainly for our young aspiring players.

“So already it would have had some real positive implications and we do hope that some of these local young ladies will be able to make that transition from being ordinary players to players of excellence who will be attractive to clubs and universities overseas,” the president noted.

“So this is the direction where we are going because we want to make some more rounded young ladies out of our football programme. So we want to make sure that they balance their footballing skills with their academics so that when universities overseas are ready they can transition successfully,” Ricketts ended.

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