Sat | Dec 9, 2023

Defending the foxhole

Donaldson says Girlz ready to battle to the last as second World Cup campaign begins

Published:Sunday | July 23, 2023 | 12:11 AMDaniel Wheeler - Staff Reporter

National senior women’s head coach, Lorne Donaldson (left), and Reggae Girl, Deneisha Blackwood.
National senior women’s head coach, Lorne Donaldson (left), and Reggae Girl, Deneisha Blackwood.

As Jamaica’s second consecutive Women’s World Cup campaign begins after a build-up that has seen focus on the field and turbulence off it, national senior head coach Lorne Donaldson has not only embraced the demands of leadership but has vowed that the Reggae Girlz are prepared to, as he said previously, defend the foxhole to the last.

Jamaica began their campaign this morning facing France in their Group F opener in Syndey, Australia, the tournament being the culmination of Donaldson’s year-long reign since taking over in June 2022.

Donaldson’s return came in the midst of the team’s demand that then-coach Vin Blaine resign. Blaine had led the team to the final round of Concacaf Women’s Championship but resigned after complaints from the team about his “leadership and communication”.

According to the new coach, going from the instability of that point, to the hopeful stance of the team after back-to-back qualifications, he is honoured.

“It is a privilege. I mean I’m blessed that I could put a helping hand to get Jamaica into the World Cup. The girls have embraced it. The team feels like they are ready. They want to come out and put up a good fight and we are just trying to move on to the next round,” Donaldson said.

While the experience is not new to him, having been on the sidelines of Jamaica’s historic 2019 campaign in France, what is new is being in the firing line as head of the programme.

Donaldson left the programme in 2020 after issues with the Jamaica Football Federation. But being in the hot seat is something that he has not shied away from.

“I was the assistant at the last World Cup. I don’t think a lot has changed in terms of the job that you are doing. But knowing that everything falls on your head, I am ready to take the bullets, as they say. Maybe that is the wrong word for what happens,” Donaldson said.

Four years on from that campaign, the build-up to this one has been anything but smooth with players voicing their displeasure on social media about the lack of communication and preparation for Australia and New Zealand. Still, Donaldson, especially after a local camp in June, is optimistic.

“This team is like being in a foxhole in a war. If anybody breaks the bond it is trouble. So they are going to fight for each other,” Donaldson said.

It is that resilience that he is banking on. After all, this morning’s French test will be followed by one apiece from Panama and Brazil. Donaldson is adamant that the team is prepared to battle to the last to achieve the goal of getting to the next round despite those massive tests.

“I think that the players are behind it and we are just going to stay together and we are going to fight together until the last game,” Donaldson said.