Girlz already made us proud
Whether you are a long-time supporter of Jamaica women’s football or you are a member of the new legion of ‘wagonists,’ as Jamaicans, we are all excited at the imminent prospect of our first female team gracing the stage of a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
As the Girlz head into France for their historic appearance, the emotions of the excitement, and the anticipation aside, the speculations and analysis range from the chances of the Girlz advancing from their first-round group, to possibly running to as far as the quarter-finals.
It will obviously be tough for the Jamaicans to make it out of a group with the world number 10-ranked Brazil, with the best player in the game, Marta, in their ranks; Australia, ranked number six in the world; and European football powerhouse Italy, ranked at number 15, with the Jamaicans being the Cinderellas of the group, ranked at number 53.
No result is ever guaranteed in football and the term ‘anything can happen’ excludes nothing from happening. In Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, the Jamaicans do have a potential match winner, who, on her day, can trouble any defence in the world, and there is indeed enough quality in the unit to produce game-changing moments against any opponent.
Instead of pontificating about the Girlz’s chances, we should instead be enjoying the journey and basking in the moment of seeing a Jamaican women’s football team appearing at a Women’s World Cup finals.
There ought not be any result that should take anything away from the historic magnitude of what they have already achieved. In real terms, a Jamaica women’s team qualifying for a senior Women’s World Cup finals was of an even greater degree of difficulty than what their male counterparts did more than 20 years ago. The women’s journey is made that more challenging with the fact that in this region sits the number one-ranked team, defending and three-time world champions, the United States of America; along with regional powerhouse Canada, ranked at number five in the world; Mexico, ranked at 26; and Costa Rica at 36, all ahead of us in the pecking order.
Ranking aside, the disparity in numbers, as well as resources, suggests Jamaica should not credibly even be competing with, much less outperforming enough of our regional rivals to make it to the World Cup. For the Girlz to have squeezed through that increasingly narrow window and make it to the Women’s World Cup is a much more remarkable feat than many people realise.
When you consider players like Shaw and young Jody Brown, who at 17 years old will be one of the youngest players at the tournament, my sincere hope is that they and others will be able to make the kind of impression that will enhance their chances of getting the opportunity to play at the elite level of the women’s game, and enjoy the tangible benefits from their exceptional talent.
There is nothing that these Jamaican Girlz can do at this Women’s World Cup that will be seen as disappointing in my eyes. Whether they win, lose, or draw their games, whether they score a goal, or two, or three, whether they sparkle or fizz, these Reggae Girlz are already pioneers and trailblazers. Whatever they do on the field of play during the Women’s World Cup will be a bonus for me because, in my eyes the Girlz have made Jamaica proud already.