"It's extremely massive": 18-year-old Brooks says W'Cup selection a push to become Reggae Girlz first-choice goalkeeper

By June 28, 2023
Reggae Girlz goalkeeper Liya Brooks share a photo opportunity with Australian star Sam Kerr during their visit Down Under for the Cup of Nations tournament earlier this year Reggae Girlz goalkeeper Liya Brooks share a photo opportunity with Australian star Sam Kerr during their visit Down Under for the Cup of Nations tournament earlier this year contributed

Every FIFA Women's World Cup sees young players come to the fore and explode into popular consciousness and Jamaica’s rising goalkeeper Liya Brooks is hoping that next month's showpiece in Australia and New Zealand will present with her moment of glory.

It may seem far-fetched given the fact that she has more experienced counterparts Rebecca Spencer and Sydney Schneider to contend with, but much like Schneider rose to prominence during the Girlz World Cup debut in France 2019, the American-born Brooks knows it is by no means impossible.

In France, Schneider, then a 19-year-old rookie, pulled off a stunning penalty save in the Reggae Girlz opening game against Brazil, though they inevitably lost 0-3.

Brooks, 18, is yearning for a big break like that when the Girlz do battle in Group F against France, Brazil and Panama at the July 20 to August 20 World Cup, but until then, she is focused on putting in the necessary work to continue impressing Head coach Lorne Donaldson and his assistants.

"Of course, there’s a competition, and I'll certainly fight for that spot in the starting team which would mean a whole lot to me at this point in my career, but I just want what is best for the team. So even if I wasn’t the one, then that’s ok," Brooks told SportsMax.tv from her base in the United States. 

"I just have to put in the work. Plain and simple and I’ll do that without hesitancy, especially going to college now, I know that will no doubt take my fitness and lifestyle to another level, and I can’t wait for that as well," she added.

Though she is still basking in the fact that she was selected in Donaldson's final squad, Brooks, who earns her Island stripes through her mother Tandi Nelson-Brooks, revealed that celebrations will be low-key, as she braces for her freshman year at Washington State University.

"It’s a great feeling being selected for my first World Cup. There’s nothing like it, because it is the highest stage of competition in both the men and women’s game, so of course it’s a very big achievement. 

"Unfortunately, there are no real celebrations. I’m off to college so an eight-hour car ride is all the celebration I’ll be doing, but I’ll be happy to celebrate a little with my new teammates, who I'm sure are just as happy as I am," she shared.

Still, the sense of pride and accomplishment Brooks feels cannot be understated having successfully transitioned from Under-17 and Under-20 representation, where she showed immense ability, which caught the senior Reggae Girlz coach staff's attention since their historic tour of South Korea late last year.

"It’s extremely massive. It puts my name on the international map at the senior level at an early stage, but for me it just makes me hungrier to strive for more than a spot on the roster next time," Brooks declared. 

"I want to play and being around the senior players have shown me that there is always work to be done, but I’ll learn from those around me and use my own experiences along the way to get there. The aim is always to push as hard as possible and to be a better player and these experiences will help me to improve," she noted.

That said, the tall and agile goalkeeper admitted that the initial stages of her transition were nerve-wracking and did indeed test her mettle but credited her more senior counterparts for their guidance in ensuring she held firm.

"It definitely wasn’t easy and still isn’t. The team itself is great and very welcoming, but I personally struggle with my own confidence and that’s what can bring down my performance at times. The team recognized that and encouraged me instead," she explained.

"Becky [Spencer] and Syd [Schneider] are amazing. They are excellent players and even better people. Alyssa [Whitehead], our goalkeeper coach, is as well. All three of them inspire me and push me to be a better player whether they know it or not. That made it really fun, and they got me through even my physically tough training," Brooks ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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