Moving beyond the Reggae Girlz's historic feat

Friday, June 21, 2019

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We can't say it often enough in this space that we are proud of our senior women's national football team, the Reggae Girlz.

Despite the fact that they lost all three games in the group stage of the Fifa World Cup finals now on in France, we believe that the team, particularly in their last match against Australia, displayed a never-say-die attitude that speaks to their pride at being Jamaican and the fact that they treasure the opportunity to represent their country at the sport's highest level.

Indeed, Coach Hue Menzies captured that sentiment very well in an interview with this newspaper after Jamaica lost 1-4 to Australia.

“It's such a great feeling knowing that your team came here and gave the effort,” he said. “We just didn't execute the way we wanted to, but we can't stop saying how resilient this group is. It doesn't matter what the score is, we just keep playing and never stopped believing in ourselves.”

As we said in this space last weekend, it was always going to be extremely difficult for the Reggae Girlz, on their World Cup début, to advance to the Group of 16, much more to the other stages of the tournament.

What we expect they will take from this experience, though, is what is required to compete at this level which, as Mr Menzies said, includes facing high-quality opponents ahead of tournaments, as well as ensuring that the players are given every opportunity to build together.

Coach Menzies has said that he and his coaching staff will approach the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to organise “quality games” in order to help them fix a lot of things.

Among the issues that need fixing is the development of young talent using, as Mr Menzies correctly pointed out, a league system that will prepare players for transition to a more competitive environment.

“I think, as far as the league is concerned, we have to get involved with the grass-roots programmes to help build that league and sustain it,” he is reported as saying in today's Jamaica Observer. “Playing a league with two months is not good enough; we have to extend that season because right now the numbers aren't where they are supposed to be, so we have to include high school players.”

His proposal is for a six-month league followed by a three-month high school season. And even with that structure he is seeing the need for us to send the players overseas to be developed.

That proposal makes sense, for as we all know a number of the present Reggae Girlz squad attend school overseas where they have access to better facilities and competitive football tournaments in the college system.

As we have stated before, continued support from the JFF and corporate sponsors will be crucial going forward. All stakeholders must, by now, recognise and accept that the achievements of the Reggae Girlz provide an opportunity for accelerated growth of women's and girls' football allied to the development of appropriate infrastructure.

We again congratulate the Reggae Girlz, the technical staff, Ms Cedella Marley, and all the other stakeholders who helped to put Jamaica's name in the history book of international women's football.

We also extend special kudos to Ms Havana Solaun who scored that wonderful goal against Australia, our first at the Women's World Cup and one that brought joy to millions of Jamaicans and other supporters worldwide.

If everything goes to plan, Jamaicans could be celebrating many more wonderful goals at future World Cups.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive




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