Reggae Boyz shoot for Girlz on eve of World Cup

By Jamaica Observer,

WASHINGTON DC, USA — The Reggae Boyz have business to take care of here in the US capital.

It will take the shape of a friendly international against the hosts tomorrow slated for Audi Field. Match time is 7:00 pm (6:00 pm Jamaica time).

Both countries are using the game to fine-tune for Concacaf’s most prestigious tournament, the Gold Cup. In this part of the globe, this is the “World Cup”.

And even in the height of preparing for this crucial match-up, and more significantly the Gold Cup where Jamaica will host matches for the first time, the Boyz paused to pay tribute to another set of Jamaicans looking to make their mark on the field of play.

On Sunday in Grenoble, France, Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz will make their historic bow at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in a match against Brazil, mirroring the unprecedented achievement of their male counterparts some 21 years earlier.

“I wish the Reggae Girlz all the best and I hope they do magnificent things in France. The fact is that they have already done a magnificent thing by qualifying for the World Cup,” said Boyz striker Darren Mattocks.

The Cincinnati FC man said it is an amazing story that Jamaica, considering its size, population and poor economic conditions, continues to wow the football world.

To its credit, Jamaica has qualified teams to the men’s Under-17, Under-20 and senior World Cups, and with the recent qualification of the Girlz, the island completes the circle of success across genders.

“We are a small country with limited resources and think what we have done, and that’s why I would call on the Government and corporate Jamaica to invest more in our young people and our sport because it will come back to the country as a benefit,” said the former Vancouver Whitecaps star.

“If we can be consistent and qualify for more World Cups from the youth level up, this will speak volumes for our overall football product,” he added.

Boyz Captain Andre Blake, too, could not resist saluting the country’s trailblazing female footballers.

“I think the ladies did a great job when a lot of people didn’t believe in them when they started, but they have turned things around and I believe that they have been doing a great job, and hopefully they can go to the World Cup and have some success.

“Importantly, their success goes to show that though we are a poor country and our population is small, with talent we can go far and there is something in us, that once it is activated, we can go far and the sky, for us, is always the limit,” said the Philadelphia Union goalkeeper.

Forward Dever Orgill throws his backing behind the Girlz as they chase their piece of glory, and reminded that their success is Jamaica’s.

“I wish the Reggae Girlz all the best, but this achievement is not about the Reggae Boyz or Reggae Girlz, this is about Jamaica. But yes, the Girlz have done something fantastic and I am with them 100 per cent and I wish them nothing but the best as they bow into the World Cup,” noted the Turkey-based front man.

Midfielder Peter-Lee Vassell, who plies his trade with MLS franchise Los Angeles FC, had a simple message for the darlings of Jamaica’s football.

“I just wish them all the luck as they are members of our family as well, and if they go out there and do what the coach says, then they should do well,” said the former Harbour View player.

Boyz Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, who was a member of the history-making Jamaica men’s team to France 21 years ago, had a more sobering perspective on the Girlz’s qualification.

“It’s very important that the Girlz have qualified for the World Cup, but what is more important is the consistency to qualify for others… when you look at the first time we qualified for the World Cup with the men’s team in 1998, and we have not been back since, and 20 years after we have the females qualifying, that’s what I am talking about, there is no consistency.

“While we celebrate them, it’s important also that the Under-17s, Under-20s and the Under-23s have to be making the transition to help the consistency, but this is where we are lacking… we need to get our youth programmes up and running properly,” said the tactician.

Whitmore had a bit of strategic advice for the Girlz as they take the plunge.

“It has to be a game by game situation as it’s a major tournament, and once we can get a good result to start against Brazil, this would give them good momentum going into their next game against Italy,” he stated.

After opening in their Group C account against Brazil on Sunday, the Girlz will face Italy on June 14 and then Australia four days later.

— Sean Williams