Awards will boost Reggae Girlz - Menzies
After being named the top female football coach in the region and seeing his girls being recognised for the most outstanding performance of the year, Hugh Menzies, head coach of Jamaica's senior women's football team, the Reggae Girlz, is expecting a positive spin-off as they prepare for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup.
Menzies, who led Jamaica to their historic FIFA Women's World Cup berth after their third-place finish at the CONCACAF Women's Championships late last year, said the awards were testament to the work and commitment that went into the qualification efforts and paid homage to the entire team and staff for the success.
The coach noted that while it is always pleasing to be recognised for one's contribution, the award is team-based, while pointing to their possible effect.
"Obviously, individual awards are always good, but this is a team award. I think it's not just me; the time, commitment and effort that went into our qualification must go out to the staff and the players. They exemplified all the adversity we went through to get to this point, so a lot of my respect goes out to them and all my past coaches like Jackie Walters an Author Lattimore, who guided me through as a player and taught me to teach. But it's a team-based award," Menzies insisted.
Menzies, who also coaches the Florida Kraze Krush in the United States, beat out United States women's national team coach, Jill Ellis and Mexico's Under-17 coach, Monica Vergara, for the top coach award.
The Reggae Girlz were also recognised as the team with the most Outstanding Performance of the Year in the CONCACAF region, while top striker Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw was announced as runner-up in the Female Player of the Year category behind Alex Morgan of the United States. Shaw was also voted third in the Best Goal of the Year category behind Mexico's Joe Corona and Allan Pulida, while Jody Brown and Shaw were named in the CONCACAF Best XI Female Team.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Menzies says the girls will get a boost from being recognised for their achievements and expects the accolades to have a positive impact on the group going forward into the World Cup in France this summer.
"We actually got the Team [of the Year] award also, and Khadija and Jody got put on the best 11 team, so it's a combination of it all, and it's a big boost for us all moving forward. We are proud that we have accomplished this, and we still have more to give and more to do, but it gives everybody in Jamaica a big boost," said Menzies.
"Now as a coach, if we just put forward the effort and stop using excuses about lack of resources, things can happen. Jamaica is just blessed with raw God-given talent, which makes my job a bit easier," he commented.
Mexico Lozana Hirving was the Male Player of the Year, while Matias Almeyda, Guadelajara's coach, was names as Male Coach of the Year.
Real Madrid and Costa Rica's Keylor Navas was the best male goalkeeper, and USA's Alyssa Nauher the best female goalkeeper.
Jamaica qualified for their first women's World Cup after scoring a penalty shoot-out win over Costa Rica and have been drawn alongside Australia, Brazil and Italy in the marquee tournament, which gets under way in France on June 7.
The Reggae Girlz will today begin a six-day training camp in St Ann, which will be used to help trim the squad for the World Cup. Thirty-two players have been invited to the camp, excluding Jody Brown, who could not be released from school, and Trudi Carter, who is injured.