'Sky' high


'Sky' high

Reggae Girl Chantelle Swaby to focus on fitness in preparation for NWSL move

Observer staff reporter

Friday, February 14, 2020

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Having done her part to assist Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz team throughout their recent cycle, Chantelle Swaby is intent on keeping the intensity going as she prepares for her professional transition.

Swaby, who is projecting success with her new club Sky Blue FC in the US National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), is now focusing on personal development as a primary task, following the Reggae Girlz' failed Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifying campaign.

The 21-year-old was drafted 29th overall to the New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, which has for the past seasons played its home games at Rutgers University where she studied sports management.

That familiarity with the team has given the West Hartford Connecticut native added confidence to continue living by her flexibility for a quick adjustment to their style of play.

Though she anchored Rutgers' defensive line and was drafted as a centre back by Sky Blue FC, Swaby is a utility player and easily fits into different playing positions.

During the Reggae Girlz' Fifa Women's World Cup debut last year, the 5 foot 11 in player did some tidy duties as a holding midfielder, and prior to that, had stints as a right full back and central attacking midfielder in the qualifiers.

With the changeover now less than a month away, Swaby is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to parade her skills in the NWSL.

“I'm really looking forward to it; I'll join the team in about a month, so I'm hoping to get into my fitness and get some recovery after this tournament [Olympic qualifiers], because I want to go in there as fit as possible and show them what I got,” she told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

“So physically, I should be able to keep up, because like I said, my fitness is one of the main things that I want to focus on, as well as my strength and my lifting. So that's the focus right now to just continue working because when the time comes I want to be on top of my game,” Swaby added, noting that she was surprised by the NWSL draft, as she was already weighing her options overseas, particularly in England.

While viewing fitness as a priority, Swaby is also cognisant that she has to prepare herself mentally as much as physically to be successful in the sport, as there were times in her career so far when she had to deal with high-pressure situations.

“Um, yeah, you always play the game to the best of your ability, but at some point you have to choose how you're going to react to different situations, especially when it requires you to lift your game a bit more. So mentally, I think I need to just, you know, probably work on that as much as I can,” Swaby shared.

That said, Swaby recollected the recently concluded Reggae Girlz cycle, which had its fair share of disappointments, as they were eliminated at the group stage in Texas.

The Girlz, who were expected to prove formidable in Group B play, suffered 0-1 and 0-9 defeats to Mexico and Canada, respectively, before closing the failed campaign with a 7-0 beating of St Kitts and Nevis.

“I think this tournament was a great experience for all of us to have coming from the World Cup, obviously we didn't get the results that we would have expected, but I think it was a great learning experience for all of us.

“So I'm just hoping that we can learn a lot from this tournament and hopefully stick together and continue to get called into camps to continue our growth and development as a team,” Swaby reasoned.

Looking ahead, she, along with her sister Allyson, is expected to continue donning the national colours and is optimistic of changes along the way, which could result in improved performances on the international stage.

“I just think that once we come into a tournament, it should always be easy to just start right away without having to build relationships on the field that should already be there, and that's where having camps on a consistent basis comes in,” she opined.

“So with more camps going forward, everyone would come in fit and on the same page during our next tournament, so that there's no grey area with any tactics and team objectives. Everybody would be as fit as possible and ready to just go,” Swaby ended.

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