The nostalgia is undeniable. Jamaica’s senior female footballers, the Reggae Girlz have qualified for the 2019 FIFA World Cup Finals (to be hosted by France), a feat that compellingly recalls the Reggae Boyz’ historic qualification for the 1998 World Cup, also hosted by France. The Girlz booked their spot after defeating Panama 4-2 on penalties in their CONCACAF encounter last week. Cedella Marley, who was instrumental in re-energizing Jamaica’s female football programme, culminating in this splendid triumph, spoke with BBC about the unprecedented moment. It’s a fusion of “nervous energy, determination and passion,” Marley said. “We were all screaming at the TV!” she recalled, sounding over-the-moon excited. “There is a saying in Jamaica that we likkle but we tallawah, and every little girl who has a dream now knows that it can be realized. Last night I did shed a tear.”
>> It Takes a Village: Fraser-Pryce praises her support system
As promised by Sports minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, the Basil Watson-designed statue in honour of sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was officially unveiled during a ceremony at Statue Park with PM Andrew Holness, husband Jason Pryce and baby Zion in attendance. Fraser-Pryce used the occasion to speak to the timeless importance of family support. “This day would not be possible without my village. As I stand here, I reflect on the resilience of a single mother who did the best she could with what she had,” the Olympic gold medallist noted. “I am thankful for the vision of MVP Track Club, mainly my coach Stephen Francis, manager Bruce James and agent Adrian Laidley – who told Jamaica and the world in loud tones that Jamaican athletes can train in Jamaica and be the best in the world.”
>> Progress Report: Sunshine Girls ace England test, head to Fast5
A sure sign of readiness for the upcoming Fast5 Netball World Series in Australia, Jamaica’s senior Sunshine Girls dismissed the England Roses 58-43 last Monday to win their three-test series 3-0 and bring the curtains on the highly entertaining 218 Lasco Sunshine Series at the National Indoor Sports Centre. The Jamaicans led all the way, with quarterly scores of 16-10, 30-21 and 46-34 before the final whistle sounded at 58-43. Match One ended 55-43; Match Two 58-39. The Sunshine Girls, led by inspirational skipper and top shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid had earlier defeated Caribbean rivals Trinidad & Tobago in two test 61-40 and 51-40. The Marvette Anderson/Winston Nevers-coached squad is stepping up preparations for next year’s World Championships being hosted by Liverpool, England.