Only the beginning for Reggae Girlz – Shaw
Reggae Girlz star striker Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw believes that the country's appearance at the ongoing FIFA Women's World Cup in France marks the beginning of their rise as a consistently top-performing team at the highest level.
Jamaica qualified to the marquee event last October after finishing third in the Concacaf Women's Championships, becoming the first Caribbean team to compete at that level. They went on to face Brazil, Italy and Australia in their group, losing their first two games 3-0 and 5-0, before scoring their first goal at the tournament in a 4-1 loss to Australia.
Shaw, who provided the assist to goalscorer Havana Solaun, is convinced the team has the ability to make World Cup qualification a regular habit once they receive the necessary support and opportunities from the Jamaica Football Federation and corporate Jamaica.
"This is just the beginning, like I have been telling everybody. Our average age is 23 years and seven months - it's crazy, we were the youngest team at the World Cup and to see the effort and how we worked for each other. It's a great feeling and it's something that we can look back on and say we did this, we actually scored a goal, so we can look back on that as a positive," Shaw told STAR Sports.
"It's all about experience, and the World Cup is all about experience," Shaw said. "We have to keep having camps, keep having competitive international games, that's what it will take to gain the experience.
LACK OF EXPERIENCE
"The little resources that we had leading up to the World Cup, we stuck together as a team, we didn't allow that to deter us from our goal to qualify for the World Cup and we went there, and you could see that the lack of experience killed us. But if we keep going and get camps under our belt, then this team can be a really good team at this level," Shaw added.
The Reggae Girlz will now turn their attention to the Pan American Games, which takes place in Lima, Peru, from July 26 to August 11. Coach Hue Menzies has indicated that the squad for this tournament will comprise several local-based players in addition to several of those who featured in France.