Having secured their historic berth in the prestigious FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup finals, which will be held from June 7 to July 7 in France, the Reggae Girlz will be back in action in February as they play practice matches against Chile.
A critical part of winning is keeping the ball out of the team’s net, and goalkeeper, Chris-Ann Chambers, has a big role to play in that process.
“I am up to the task,” Chris-Ann tells JIS News.
“I have played outfield positions where I had to beat the goalkeeper, so I know what they are thinking and what to expect. Playing in the outfield has also strengthened my legs, enabling me to be more agile in goal,” she adds.
Chris-Ann is not a newcomer to the sport, as she has played with her brother, who is a sport enthusiast, while growing up.
“I learnt the game from my brother from I was pretty young, but I have been in the youth programmes since 2010, and I have been playing with senior Reggae Girlz for a year and half,” she notes.
The Reggae Girlz are in Group C with Australia, Italy and Brazil. Jamaica will kick off against Brazil on Sunday, June 9, in the Stade des Alpes, Grenoble.
“We are in a fascinating position. Countries that we used to idolise have now become our rivals,” says Chris-Ann.
“These countries, like Brazil and Australia, have more professional experience, having made it to the top 10 in World Cup rankings, but we don’t fear them,” she asserts.
Two teams will automatically advance from each of the six groups, but there will be four best third-place teams as well, rounding out the top 16.
To be more competitive, the Girlz will be having some practice matches with countries at a similar level, such as Chile, at home on February 28 and March 3.
“These games and four others to come are important in our build-up to the tournament,” says Chris-Ann.
Strengthening team chemistry is also key, especially when there are players based overseas.
“We have training camps when it’s coming up to match time, in Orlando, Florida, USA; and also in Jamaica. Although we don’t get to be with each other often, we are all united by our desire to win, so we gel easily when we come together to train,” explains Chris-Ann.
Another element fuelling the lead-up to the World Cup games is the acquisition of new sponsors.
“We are grateful for the extra support, because preparing for the World Cup is very expensive,” says the Reggae Girlz goalkeeper.
“Also, we enjoyed the recent celebrations organised by Minister of Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange. In fact, we were overwhelmed, especially after we got several keys to the cities,” she adds.
Chris-Ann tells JIS News that members of the team are not just going to France to make up numbers. “We are going there to compete. We want to make a habit of going to the World Cup,” she says.
This will be her first visit to France, and so she has started to learn the language.
“I studied Spanish in high school, so it’s a bit difficult, but now I have started working on my French,” says Chris-Ann.
“We would love to have Jamaicans visiting and living in France at the matches. Being so far away from home, it would be good to have some familiar faces from the diaspora in the stands,” she appeals.
As the French would say: “Un bravo pour les Reggae Girlz, et bonne chance”. That is, “Let’s hear it for the Reggae Girlz, and good luck”.
Written By: Linton Heslop