Fri | Sep 24, 2021

‘A hard void to fill’

Former Reggae Girlz coach Menzies hails late team manager Nelson’s contribution to women’s football

Published:Monday | September 13, 2021 | 12:10 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
NELSON
NELSON
Late national senior football team manager Jean Nelson (front right), team benefactor Cedella Marley (front centre) and the Reggae Girlz pose for a photo moments after the team’s victory in an international friendly match against Panama at the National S
Late national senior football team manager Jean Nelson (front right), team benefactor Cedella Marley (front centre) and the Reggae Girlz pose for a photo moments after the team’s victory in an international friendly match against Panama at the National Stadium in Kingston on Sunday May 19, 2019.
MENZIES
MENZIES
PLUMMER
PLUMMER
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Former Reggae Girlz coach Hue Menzies described the team’s late manager, Jean Nelson, as a foundation of the local women’s game and said her commitment to the development of Jamaica’s women’s football was second to none. Nelson, who was involved in...

Former Reggae Girlz coach Hue Menzies described the team’s late manager, Jean Nelson, as a foundation of the local women’s game and said her commitment to the development of Jamaica’s women’s football was second to none.

Nelson, who was involved in women’s football administration for over 30 years and had been the Reggae Girlz’s team manager for the last decade, passed away on Saturday after a short illness.

Menzies said Nelson’s influence on players and the programme was what he describes as “massive,” and he said that everyone will now have to play their part in filling the void she has left behind.

“Jean’s commitment to women’s football was probably next to none,” Menzies told The Gleaner. “It is sad to see she had to leave us.

“She was thankful to me for being instrumental in helping to get the team to the World Cup. That was a dream of hers, and we are grateful we were able to achieve that goal, and she was a big part of that.

“The impact she made on people’s lives is invaluable, and all condolences go out to the family and friends, and may she rest in peace.”

Menzies said that at times when the World Cup qualifying campaign was not going well, Nelson was always ready with a word of encouragement and said that she was a driving force behind the scenes.

“She kept the fires burning when things were down,” he said. “She was always there to be called upon, and she never stopped pursuing, so she was a big part of the success and a big positive influence on all the ladies.

“The programme will really miss her. We are all going to miss her, not just Jamaica will, but Concacaf, because she was well-known.”

SPECIAL PERSON

Team captain Konya Plummer said Nelson was a special person and that she was like a mother to the team.

“She looked out for me in more ways than I could imagine. So personally, it is hard for me,” Plummer said.

“The programme is going to miss such a great influence. She had a beautiful soul. She worked very hard and gave everything to the programme and to the girls. She was like a mom away from home.

“So I don’t think it will ever be the same. Ms Nelson’s energy will be missed. We all appreciated her, and we didn’t even get to say that to her.

“But she has left a legacy because she always looked to show love. Condolences to her family and friends.”

A Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) press release says Nelson, the first official president of the Jamaica Women’s Football Association and a former player, was a stalwart and a giant supporter of women’s football.

It said that her love for the game and what it describes as her relentless drive for the organisation and the development of the women’s game locally were incomparable.

“She was one of the driving forces who started the first women’s football league in 1990,” the statement read.

“Jean has been the manager of the senior Reggae Girlz for many years, and as fate would have it, she had the distinct pleasure of managing Jamaica’s first and only team to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019.

“The Jamaica Football Federation sends sincere condolences to her family and friends and especially the Reggae Girlz, who have lost a matriarch. May her soul rest in eternal peace.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com