The bigger picture - Menzies sees FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign as positive learning experience
It has not been the dream FIFA Women’s World Cup debut Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz wanted.
And as the curtains get ready to close on their campaign here in France, head coach Hue Menzies recognises the importance of registering a performance that will encourage continued support for the programme and a team that he believes can develop into a competitive force in the near future.
Jamaica suffered defeat in their two games in the competition to date, losing 3-0 to Brazil in Grenoble last Sunday before suffering a heavy 5-0 loss to Italy on Friday.
They will wrap up their Group C commitments against Australia on Tuesday, and although they can mathematically join both the Aussies and Brazil on three points with a win, they would need a mammoth victory to have any chance of advancing from the group.
Menzies is, however, hoping to lead the Girlz to a positive performance and result against the Aussies in their return to Grenoble for Tuesday’s game, knowing fully well that a strong showing here might prove the difference between added fuel to a growing flame of support for women’s football in Jamaica and a stream of cold water on the fledgling programme.
“The thing is, from day one, I’ve always said this is bigger than the World Cup,” Menzies said in reference to any added pressures ahead of Tuesday’s match. “This is just part of the journey that we have to face. That is something we consistently talk about. This is a learning experience.”
With Jamaica arriving at the tournament with the youngest team, Menzies pointed out that with the right support, this group of players could return to this stage as a much stronger force, considering that most of these players could comfortably feature in another two or three World Cup campaigns barring major injury.
Striker Jody Brown, who today is 17 years and 61 days, is the second youngest player at the World Cup, with the team registering an average age of 23 years and seven months. Substitute goalkeeper Nicole McClure is the oldest member of the team at 29 years old, followed by Tiffany Cameron at 27.
“I’m telling you, in the next four years to eight years, if we have these players, it will be a totally different team if we get the resources. This has been a great learning lesson for all our players,” said Menzies. “Sometimes we think we are great, and when you come here you see excellence, and that’s where we have to be. We have to be in the environment to create excellence.”
“I think mano a mano or woman to woman, we can play with these teams, but we give up simple mistakes that we can’t recover from.”
Following the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Reggae Girlz will turn their attention to the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.