Sports

Girlz staff revel in historic feat

SHERDON COWAN
AT THE CONCACAF
WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
In USA

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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FRISCO, USA – If once you fail to succeed, try and try again until you get it right.

It's this never-say-die attitude that finally got Jamaica's Reggae Girlz into the Fifa Women's World Cup after numerous failed attempts.

The Girlz yesterday created history of being the first Caribbean team to qualify for the biggest stage in women's football when they defeated Panama 4-2 on penalties after playing to a 2-2 stalemate in full and extra time of the Concacaf Women's Championship third-place play-off match in Frisco, Texas.

Achieving the historic feat of heading to the 2019 showpiece event in France is particularly fitting given the fact that France was also the host nation when the men's team, the Reggae Boyz, made the country's lone appearance at the World Cup in 1998.

Head of delegation Sheridan Samuels was overwhelmed with emotions as the team celebrated in the locker room.

“This is really awesome. When I first went to Colombia with the female team and I saw the type of football they were playing, I knew that they were technically prepared and I want to use the opportunity to congratulate coach Hue [Menzies] and his team,” Samuels told the Jamaica Observer.

“What I have seen since I have come here in terms of preparation is fantastic, I have travelled with the Reggae Boyz before and I have never seen this level of technical preparation before. Sanford Carabin flew in from Canada to do the video analysis; Will [Hitzelberger] in terms of fitness and [Hubert] Busby with his technical ability,” he added.

The achievement also represents the commitment and dedication of the coaching staff who at times had to dig into their own pockets to ensure the Girlz were focused on the task since the qualifying campaign commenced in Haiti in May.

While celebrating on a cold and rainy night in Frisco, Texas, members of the coaching staff remain optimistic that corporate Jamaica will rally behind the team in giving further support going forward.

“We created history and it is just an amazing feeling to have done that... we made a lot of sacrifices internally and externally, and back in Haiti when we came from two goals down, we made a pact that we were going to continue pushing ahead.

“I know some people doubted us, but we have proved them wrong by doing what we did here tonight and I am so happy for the players, the federation, our staff and Jamaica, that we have a female team representing us on a world stage and I hope it will open the eyes of those looking on,” Menzies noted.

For goalkeeper coach Hubert Busby, the achievement marks the beginning of a new journey.

“It's been a three-year process because this goes back to the last time we were in the States and didn't qualify and the plan was put into place at that particular moment. So credit to Hue, credit to the JFF and the entire support team, but more importantly, credit to the players who got this done.

Will Hitzelberger, who was charged with recovery and keeping the Girlz fit and healthy, credited the accomplishment to team effort.

“Credit to the players, they have done a lot of work on their own. They treat every day like a professional and taking care of themselves and they were able to go out there and perform because of that. This is just a full team effort; the staff support what I do and that makes my job very easy,” Hitzelberger stated.

Assistant coach Lorne Donaldson also fought back emotions as he lauded the team's spirit and fortitude.

“We should have finished the game in regular time, but we did it the hard way. This is a coaching staff and a bunch of girls who were always on a mission even with the conditions and all that, they applied themselves. But there are some things that we have to fix going forward,” said Donaldson.

“Also, the mentality that some of these girls are developing, you know it takes a period of time to make that happen, but the sky is the limit with this programme so hopefully Jamaica can come behind it now,” he added.

Meanwhile, local-based assistant Andrew Price paid tribute to Ambassador Cedella Marley of the Bob Marley Foundation, the JFF, among others.

“It's a historic achievement; we ensured that when we were coming to Texas we were realistic. We knew for the first round we needed six points and we got that and once we came to Frisco we knew we needed to win one of two games.

“The technical staff and management team were prepared for this game and we believe it is just reward. A lot of sacrifices have been made and I believe that it is a credit to the entire team and we really want to thank Cedella Marley, the Bob Marley Foundation, Alacran Foundation, the JFF and all who assisted us along the way. We couldn't have done it without support,” he declared.

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