Sport

Hard work has paid off — Girlz

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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FRISCO, USA — After putting in many hours, arduous workouts and mind-cramping focus in an effort to qualify for the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup, the Reggae Girlz have finally done it.

The dream was realised courtesy of a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Panama in the Concacaf Women's Championship third-place play-off after both teams had played to a 2-2 stalemate in full and extra time on a cold and rainy night in Frisco, Texas, yesterday.

With the victory, the Jamaicans achieved their best-ever finish at the championships surpassing their previous best of fourth in 2006, and by extension became the first Caribbean team to qualify for the showpiece event in women's football.

Tears rolled down the cheeks of talented football players as they made their way back to the dressing room in celebration of their historic accomplishment.

Those tears of joy later gave way to jubilant cheers as they sang the National Anthem before skipping to the team anthem Strike Hard by the Marley brothers.

Captain Konya Plummer is hoping that their demonstration of commitment and patriotism to Jamaica will inspire others.

“The feeling is unbelievable; we went out and did what we had to do and created history, so I am just speechless right now. I am just extremely happy that after putting in the hard work we have accomplished what we set out to and we are now celebrating the reward of our labour.

“I would like to say congrats to my teammates, the coaches and everybody involved for what we have done for Jamaica and we hope this will have a big impact on the younger players coming up and even those around the world who are aspiring to achieve big things but are struggling at the moment,” Plummer told the Jamaica Observer.

“We just have to refocus and get ourselves together to go to France because whatever we do there will also be a part of history, so we just want to go there and continue to write our destiny,” she added.

Twenty-seven-year-old Sashana Campbell, who recently made a return to the programme, was at a loss for words by the accomplishment, as, in an earlier interview, she had told this newspaper that this might be her last cycle with the team.

“To be honest, it hasn't really hit me just yet, it is like I am numb to it, so maybe when I wake up tomorrow it will really sink in that we really created history.

“This is everything that I have always dreamt about. It was my number one goal and to see it come to fruition is very huge because it is like the final piece of the puzzle for me in football, having played in college, professionally and now heading to the World Cup, what more could I ask for,” she asked.

Overseas-based Allyson Swaby, who along with her younger sister Chantelle, have played crucial roles in the team, was also at a loss for words.

“It hasn't hit me as yet as much as it should, but just being here and being a part of this entire cycle and seeing how we started and how we have improved in just about five months is amazing.

“It is just how much we have overcome and achieved in such a short time and for me and any soccer player this is the biggest accomplishment aside from actually winning the World Cup. Once we got through the Caribbean phase I was all-in and I told myself that there is no turning back because it was all or nothing and I was confident that we could do it and here we are now celebrating history,” she noted.

For 25-year-old winger Ashleigh Shim, there was never a doubt that the team could achieve this feat.

“The Caribbean tournament was an important tool for us to mark ourselves as champions. We knew we were capable but we also needed to show Jamaica — both the average Jamaican, who isn't familiar with women's football and corporate Jamaica — that we were committed to seeing our qualification through to the World Cup.

“So it is an amazing feeling right now; this tournament helped catch the attention we need to be fully supported; we have shown that we have a real product that we can use to market Jamaican football. We are grateful to all those who supported us and everyone who played a role in making this tournament successful for us,” Shim stated.

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