Sports

PM backs Girlz

You could win it, PM tells Girlz

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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WINNING the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup or by extension leaving the group stage will be no easy task for Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz by any stretch of the imagination.

But even with the longest shot and most daunting of odds, dreams do come true. And among the dreamers is Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who believes the Reggae Girlz have the ability to go beyond the group stage.

If the Girlz needed an extra boost in confidence before commencing preparation for next summer's showpiece in France, Holness delivered just that at a reception at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Monday evening.

The reception, which is part of the ongoing celebration of the Reggae Girlz historic qualification to the World Cup, attracted a number of dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corp who turned out as a show of support for Jamaica's modern day heroines.

Even with the number 53-ranked Jamaicans pitted in Group C alongside number sixth-ranked Australia, Brazil at number 10 and number 16th-ranked Italy, Holness is of the view that the Reggae Girlz will surpass expectations.

The top two teams from each group and the best four third-placed teams will progress to the round of 16.

Jamaica booked their spot by virtue of a 4-2 penalty-kick win over Panama in the third place play-off at the Concacaf Women's Championship in Texas in October. The game ended 2-2 in full and extra time.

“Just being here among you [Reggae Girlz] tonight gives me a good sense that you are going to do well in this competition, I get a good sense that you could win it. I don't want you to believe that your size is a disadvantage, your size, our size as a country is an advantage.

“Jamaica always performed above its weight class so to speak, we have always had an amplified voice in the world and we have always done far better than people expect us to do. So I get the sense from you that you are going to do far better than the world expects you to do,” Holness said while addressing those in attendance.

He continued: “I never try to encourage exceptionalism, but the facts are what they are. We produced Bob Marley, who has created music that has influenced the world, we had people like Marcus Garvey that has influenced the world, and we have produced some of the best athletes in the world… there will never be another Usain Bolt.

“So I don't believe that it is too far-fetched that Jamaica can put both hands on the World Cup trophy and take it home. So you have my prayers, you have my support, you have brought pride to your country, your country is grateful, your country supports you 100 per cent and more and by the will of God and by your own effort, energy and time, we will do very well if not win the competition,” Holness went on.

While reflecting on the Reggae Girlz journey to becoming the first Caribbean team to qualify for a Fifa Women's World Cup, Holness lauded the players' commitment and resolute attitude throughout.

Captain Konya Plummer, substitute goalkeeper Nicole McClure, who pulled off stunning saves during a penalty shoot-out and leading scorer Khadija Shaw, with 19 goals for the campaign, came in for special commendation.

“Of course the entire team performed well. I interviewed Konya about the team spirit because you know the men's game is all about ego, but amazingly she told me that the team spirit is wonderful, they all get along like sisters and that unity can overcome anything,”noted the prime minister, who has committed to make a personal financial contribution to the Girlz's World Cup preparation coffers.

Ambassador Cedella Marley, who with the Bob Marley Foundation and assistance from Alacrann Foundation, aided the Girlz campaign, lent her voice to the proceedings.

“Thank you guys for coming out tonight to support the Girlz, they need the support now more than ever and we are just going to have to continue to strengthen them,” she said.

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