Hubert Busby, who had the unfortunate task of leading the Reggae Girlz in their failed bid for a place at the Tokyo Olympics this month, believes that despite the obvious regression since a historic World Cup berth last year, there is hope for the future of the programme.

According to Busby, while investment in the Reggae Girlz is important, even more focus should be paid to the younger members of the programme, to the youth.

“I do think there needs to be some true strategic planning and putting things in place that are vitally important, not just for the [senior] women's programme, but the youth programme as well,” said Busby in an interview with Jamaican newspaper The Jamaica Observer.

According to Busby, he would want to continue as Reggae Girlz head coach, saying he would be honoured were the conditions right.

The conditions certainly were not right when Busby led the team into the final round of CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, with the Reggae Girlz going down 1-0 to Mexico before receiving a 9-0 thrashing from Canada. There was some joy for the Reggae Girlz though, as their final game of the round was a 7-0 demolition of St Kitts & Nevis.

“Obviously if the conditions are right and there's a serious collaborative effort for the programme to progress, obviously I would once again be honoured to lead my country in this role,” he said.

The Reggae Girlz had one camp ahead of the qualifiers, largely because the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the coaching staff which took the Girlz to the World Cup, were at war.

Head coach Hue Menzies had resigned and his assistant Lorne Donaldson, who should have been a shoo-in for the top job, had enough reservations that his employers ultimately went in another direction with Busby. Donaldson consequently resigned having not known what his position with the team was.

“If you truly look at other national teams and how far they've come, all you have to do is look how much investment has gone into the youth programmes to see what comes through. So I'd love to be a part of the solution to make that happen in Jamaica, and look at how we can kind of formulate and work with those local coaches and the director of football and the federation to figure out how we continue to develop players on the island who are ready to play at international level,” said Busby.

Jamaica Reggae Girlz inspirational striker and captain Khadijah Shaw insists the team will not be discouraged by a performance that was on occasion overwhelming, during the recently concluded Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship.

The Jamaicans managed to at least finish on a high with a 7-0 win over Caribbean rivals St Kitts and Nevis.  Some of their previous results were, however, far less impressive after opening with a 1-0 loss to Mexico and a 9-0 loss at the hands of Canada. 

With only two teams to qualify from the competitive group B Jamaica ended in third place on 3 points.  Despite some of the tough results, however, Shaw insists the historic World Cup qualifiers remain encouraged and vows the team will bounce back.

“The tournament didn’t go how we wanted but it’s important to stay positive.  We know we should have gotten better results against the other teams but at the end of the day that’s football you win some you lose some,” Shaw said.

“The objective was just to come out here and show what we could do and stay together as a team despite all the adversity,” she added.

“In life, you will have setbacks but it’s about how you get up and keep pushing is what defines you as a person and you just keep on learning.  The more you grow is the better you get.”

Jamaica's Reggae Girlz were on the wrong end of a 9-0 thrashing, at the hands of Canada, in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship on Saturday.

Needing a win to keep their chances of advancing from the highly competitive group B alive, the Jamaicans found the firepower from the eighth-ranked Canadians a bit too much to handle and found very little in the way of competitive response.

  Canadian teenager Jordyn Huitema helped herself to five goals and Janine Beckie added three as the Maple Leaves booked their spot in the semifinals of the competition with one group game remaining.  In its first two games, the Canadians have scored an astounding 20 goals, after opening with an 11-0 thrashing of St Kitts.

Deanne Rose got the team’s other goal.  The Canadians will tackle Mexico, who earlier beat St Kitts 6-0, to see which team progresses as the winner of the group.  Jamaica will play St Kitts and Nevis in the battle to determine the minor placings.  The U.S. plays Costa Rica on Monday to determine the Group A winner.

A loss to Mexico to kick off its campaign was not ideal for Jamaica's Reggae Girlz but the team's head coach Hubert Busby insists they remain in with a fighting chance.

Jamaica Reggae Girlz head coach Hubert Busby Jr has pointed out that the team is mathematically still in with a chance to qualify for the Olympics, despite a disappointing start to the campaign after a loss to Mexico.

In a competitive Group B, which also includes St Kitts and Nevis and Canada, and only two to qualify to the next round, the last thing the Jamaicans would have wanted was a 1-0 loss to begin their campaign.  Thanks to a goal from Mexico’s Renae Cuéllar, however, that is the scenario the team has found themselves in, with its upcoming game against highly-fancied eighth-ranked Canada already a must-win scenario.  In their opening encounter, Canada beat St Kitts and Nevis 11-0.

“Mathematically we are still in.  We have to win our next two games to advance and that’s where our preparation is right now,” Busby Jr told the SportsMax Zone.

One area in which the coach hopes there will be a dramatic improvement is in front of the goal. 

“Mexico had lots of possession, but they did not threaten us.  I thought we were organized and compact and hard to break down.  I think on the overall balance of the game we created more clear-cut opportunities and I think if we were sharper in front of goal we could have won the match,” he added.

The team’s talisman Khadijah Shaw crashed a powerful shot of the crossbar before Mexico took the lead and was denied again in the second half.  Group B continues play on Saturday, February 1 with Mexico playing Saint Kitts and Nevis in the early match at HEB Park.   Jamaica plays Canada in the later game.

 

The Jamaica Reggae Girlz kicked off their bid to qualify for the Olympics in disappointing fashion with a 1-0 loss to Mexico in the Women’s Qualifying Championship at HEB Park in Texas on Wednesday.

With only two teams allowed to qualify from the region, the loss was an early blow for the team looking to follow-up on their maiden appearance at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

The Jamaicans began the match the brighter of the two teams, but it was the Mexicans who seemed determined to make up for missing out on qualification for the last World Cup.

Despite dominant spells of possession, it was a set-piece that saw the Mexicans eventually take the lead.  In the 36th minute, after Kiana Palacios laid off for Renae Cuéllar in the area, she smartly steered home to finish beyond Sydney Schneider.  The Jamaicans had previously only narrowly missed out on taking the lead after talismanic striker Khadijah Shaw hit the crossbar in the 32nd minute from a tight angle.

The Jamaicans continued to hunt for the equalizer in the second half but were denied by quality saves from Mexican goalkeeper Emily Alvarado.  Group B continues play on Saturday, February 1 with Mexico playing Saint Kitts and Nevis in the early match at HEB Park.

 Saint Kitts and Nevis lost to Canada 11-0 earlier on Wednesday. Jamaica plays Canada in the later game in what’s now a must-win match for the Reggae Girlz.

The Jamaica Football Federation’s issues with the Reggae Girlz and who should coach them are not yet over with the Sunday night announcement that veteran coach, Lorne Donaldson has quit.

According to reports in the media, Donaldson left his post as Reggae Girlz assistant coach with immediate effect.

His resignation letter suggests the reason for the resignation falls in line with an earlier parting of the ways, by his boss, Hue Menzies.

"This decision is primarily based on the questionable integrity and lack of professionalism within the leadership of the JFF," said Donaldson, who is also executive director of coaching at Real Colorado Soccer.

Menzies had resigned, suggesting the JFF were not professional in handling contract negotiations.

Donaldson, who was seen as frontrunner to take Menzies place had said he would not take the head coach job unless things changed.

Now he wants nothing to do with the job completely.

The resignation also comes days after the JFF announced an interim head coach appointment for Hubert Busby, who had been the Reggae Girlz goalkeeping coach.

There was also the appointment of long-time Boys’ Town coach Andrew Price as an assistant, as the Reggae Girlz take on the second round of Olympic Qualifying next month.

Donaldson’s letter did not make mention of the fact that an assistant was hired while he was substantively in that role but his last tour with the women’s programme was to hold a training camp for under-17 and under-20 Reggae Girlz last month.

Before that Donaldson took up head coaching during the Reggae Girlz successful first round of Olympic qualifying, while Menzies took time off.

Here is Donaldson’s full resignation letter

Dear Mr. [Michael] Ricketts:

After careful consideration, I must immediately tender my resignation from all duties associated with the Jamaica Football Federation women’s program. This decision is primarily based on the questionable integrity and lack of professionalism within the leadership of the JFF.

I’m honored to have served Jamaica’s football community for over 45 years and will continue to do so in many capacities. However, I will not in clear conscience, continue to work for an organization that blatantly disregard the sacrifices of the coaching staff and the Reggae Girlz. As coaches, we have overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, but jointly we successfully led our women’s senior team to their first FIFA Women’s World Cup in history. This was a tremendous feat and one for which we should all be incredibly proud.

I thank the JFF, Hue Menzies and my peers, Reggae Girlz Ambassador, Cedella Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation who were instrumental in bringing financial support and reviving awareness through social media about the plight of the Reggae Girlz. I also thank members of the Reggae Girlz Foundation, our many sponsors and the Jamaican supporters worldwide for their unwavering support.

Most importantly, I sincerely thank all members of the Reggae Girlz teams for their dedication and commitment while overcoming adversity in challenging conditions as without them these accomplishments would not have been possible.

The sombre affair of laying to rest the body of Reggae Girl Tarania ‘Plum Plum’ Clarke was replaced with the loud bangs of gunshots and the unmistakable stench of fear from mourners who were hindered from doing just that on Sunday.

What started as a day celebrating the life of Clarke, where she was described as a born leader at the Excelsior High School Auditorium in Kingston, Jamaica, ended with confusion and pain at the Meadowrest Memorial Gardens in St Catherine.

Reports are that on Sunday, there was an altercation during the burial that resulted in the stabbing of an employee at Meadowrest.

It is alleged that gunmen from the nearby community, hearing of the injury to one of their own, broke up the proceedings by firing gunshots into the proceedings.

It is unknown if anybody was shot in the incident as the police are yet to release a report on the incident as investigations continue.

The October 31 death shocked the footballing community in Jamaica, with reports surfacing that the 20-year-old was stabbed during a fight with a friend over a cell phone in Half-Way Tree.

During the memorial service inside the auditorium, Reggae Girl, Khadija Shaw asked that Clarke be remembered for being funny, caring and hard working.

“She would have wanted to be with us all, to be here with our happiest smile of our times together,” said Shaw.

“For the memories, I have with her, I can tell you she was a strong person. Plum Plum’s presence will be missed by all, but she will never be forgotten.”

Clarke captained the Waterhouse women’s team for four title-winning seasons, earning a Reggae Girlz debut on September 30 during the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers and even scored her first international goal against Cuba, during a 21-1 drubbing. The defender also scored against St Lucia when the Reggae Girlz beat them 11-0.

President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Michael Ricketts, said the loss of life was caused by a lack of understanding.

“It is so sad and painful to have lost someone which such a future,” Ricketts said.

“From her days at primary school, she has exhibited that ability to lead. I want to use this opportunity to ask all of you that we showed love. We [need to] go back to the days when we respect and show love to our friends. One single act of indiscretion has cost the community, the school, and certainly Jamaica, [someone] with such great talent.”

Jamaica Football Federation president, Michael Ricketts, held nothing back recently when he slammed former Reggae Girlz head coach Hue Menzies for being unprofessional.

Menzies, the coach who led the Reggae Girlz to a historic World Cup Qualification earlier this year, quit the team via the media recently, citing numerous problems with remuneration and issues with getting information about a new contract, which elapsed earlier this year.

Ricketts, however, said Menzies has been less than truthful about his issues with the JFF and pointed out that the nature of his resignation was not inkeeping with proper protocol.

“If I were to say the things that Menzies have done, it would cause all of us major embarrassment. We’ll refrain from saying anything else; just to say that Menzies up to now has not yet said to the JFF that here’s my letter of resignation, but he tells the world and every single media house that he has resigned so we take it that he has resigned so we move on,” said Ricketts on Jamaican radio station, Hitz 92 FM.

Menzies had missed the first stage of the Reggae Girlz’ Olympic qualifiers earlier this year, saying he would not coach the team until the JFF resolved their issues with him.

According to Ricketts, his organization were only made aware that this was the case, again through the media.

“Just before the start of the preliminary round of the World Cup Qualifiers, Minister (Olivia Grange) and I were on the phone and got in contact with the coach to have a three-way discussion. Menzies said to us that he could not come to the first stage of the qualifiers because he had a board meeting to attend. The next day Menzies was on the radio saying that he was not coming because the JFF owed him money,” said the JFF president.

The announcement of a new coach, the JFF has said, will take place before the end of the year.

Sports Minister Olivia Grange says the Government will give substantial financial support to the family of slain Jamaica women's international footballer Tarania Clarke.

Grange made the announcement on her Instagram page on Thursday after meeting with Tarania’s mother Charmaine Riley Clarke, her sister Tina Darby and coach Xavier Gilbert at the Minister’s offices in New Kingston.

The meeting took place ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving for Tarania set for the Excelsior High School Auditorium on Saturday, December 22.

“The Ministry sees it as a responsibility to be facilitating the planning of final arrangements for Tarania’s Thanksgiving Service through funds to be paid over from the benefits derived from the Jamaica Athlete’s Insurance Plan, the Government Of Jamaica’s Group Health, Group Life and Personal Accident Plan.

“We are committed to providing the necessary assistance to ensure that Tarania’s sending home is befitting of one who served her country well. She was not only a brilliant footballer and leader but a wonderful individual,” the Sports Minister said.

Tarania died after a stabbing incident in the capital city of Kingston on October 31.

Police said the 20-year-old midfielder was pronounced dead in hospital.

Officers stated that Tarania died after a dispute over a mobile phone at about 8.50 pm on the night of October 31. A woman has since been charged.

Tarania, who played for Waterhouse FC, scored on her international debut in September's 12-1 win over Cuba in the Olympic qualifiers.

Tarania also captained the Excelsior High School football team.

She will be interred at the Meadowrest Memorial Gardens.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts says his organization will be announcing a new head coach for the Reggae Girlz in a matter of days.

According to Ricketts, the JFF’s technical committee, which has the prevue of selecting a coach, will make its decision after discussions with stakeholders on Tuesday.

According to Ricketts, the decision will be made to replace former head coach Hue Menzies, who announced his intention to leave the programme via the media more than a week ago, despite not receiving a formal resignation.

“We haven’t gotten anything official,” said Ricketts.

“But he has gone public [with his resignation], so we just have to take it that he will not be a part of the programme,” he said.

Menzies announced his intention to leave the programme after four years, citing a lack of communication from the JFF regarding a new contract that had expired in August, as well as unpaid salaries and reimbursements.

Menzies had refused to coach the team until all unpaid monies were sent his way.

The former coach’s stance meant he missed the first round of Olympic Qualifiers with the Reggae Girlz.

Those qualifiers still went well under the guidance of assistant coach Lorne Donaldson, with the final round of qualifiers set to take place from January 28 to February 9, 2020.

Donaldson’s performance is reported to have made him frontrunner for the job, however, the assistant has hinted at reservations about taking the new post.

Reggae Girlz assistant coach Lorne Donaldson believes the women’s programme in Jamaica has taken a hit with the departure of World Cup qualifying coach, Hue Menzies.

Menzies, on Tuesday, announced his intention to leave the programme after disputes with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) seemed not to have a resolution in sight.

According to Menzies, the JFF has not paid money due to him in his contract, failed to communicate with him regarding a new contract after his expired in August, and have not reimbursed him for expenses incurred on the job.

Donaldson, himself, has said he would be unwilling to take up the top post, coaching the Girlz, unless there were guarantees that some of the issues Menzies spoke about were addressed.

“Menzies not being around puts a hole in the programme; the staff is really bummed because we did a lot of work within the last five years, some of it is work done behind the scenes that people don't know about, and we scraped and fought with these kids. So Hue not being around is a big setback for this programme,” said Donaldson.

The executive director of coaching at Real Colorado Soccer also believes there is a lot of uncertain surrounding the programme with just a couple of months to go before the Reggae Girlz take on the final round of Olympic Qualification.

“The crucial stage of the Olympic qualifiers is coming up, but we already messed that up because we had a game against the USA and we didn't take the game. We would have played the number one team in the world and we didn't take the game, so all this stuff is a setback for us,” said Donaldson.

“Now we missed the FIFA window; no games and I don't know when we are going to have any friendly games or camps because everything seems to be very difficult. I know Costa Rica wants to play us in January, and that's kind of late, but Costa Rica is still waiting for them to respond, so I don't know,” he said.

Still, Donaldson believes there is much promise in the Reggae Girlz programme and wants to ensure that that promise is fulfilled.

“We are going to concentrate on the players because we actually owe it to them. [Hubert] Busby and I, we made a commitment to some of the parents and players for the U-20s and U-17s,” said Donaldson.

“Again, it is going to be difficult trying to do the U-17s and the U-20s because nobody seems like they are interested on that side. There is interest elsewhere, but we have to find the right people who want to see women's football succeed in Jamaica. Right now it is not happening,” he said.

Assistant coach of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz, Lorne Donaldson, does not want to step into the vacancy left by the departing Hue Menzies if women’s football in the country is treated the same way it has been.

Despite numerous successes in recent times, Reggae Girlz head coach, Hue Menzies has decided he can no longer continue in his capacity after a protracted dispute did not seem to be coming to an amicable solution.

Houston, Texas, Edinburg, Texas, and Los Angeles, California will host the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The competition, to be disputed between eight teams, including 2019 FIFA World Cup Champions United States, and World Cup participants Canada and Jamaica, is scheduled to take place January 28 - February 9, 2020.

Additionally, Concacaf conducted the official draw to sort the eight participating teams into two groups of four, for the first round of the competition. The draw, which featured welcoming remarks from Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio, was executed by Concacaf Head of Women’s Football Karina LeBlanc, with the assistance of two-time Olympic Gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley and Olympic Bronze medal winner Kaylyn Kyle. 

The groups for the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament are as follows:

Group A
A1: USA
A2: Costa Rica
A3: Panama 
A4: Haiti

Group B
B1: Canada
B2: Mexico
B3: Jamaica
B4: St Kitts and Nevis

The 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament will kick off with an initial group stage between January 28 and February 4. Group A matches will take place at the BBVA Stadium, in Houston, TX on January 28, 31, and February 3. Group B matches are set for January 29, and February 1 and 4, at the HEB Park, in Edinburg, TX. 

After group stage round-robin play the top two finishers from each group will move on to the semifinals. The two semifinal matches, which will determine the two qualified teams to the Olympics, will be played on Friday, February 7, at the Dignity Health Sports Park, in Los Angeles, CA. The final match, between the semifinal winners, will also be played in Los Angeles, on Sunday, February 9. 

More information on tickets will be available in ussoccer.com in due course.

In the previous edition of the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, hosted in Houston and Frisco, in 2016, the United States topped Canada 2-0 in the final, earning its 4th straight title.

The 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament will kick off what is set to be a year of Women’s Football at Concacaf.  In total, more than 1,400 girls and women from the entire region will have access to top level football tournaments, including the Girls’ Under-15 Championship and the Women’s Under-17 and Under-20 Championships.

2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Dates: January 28 - February 9, 2020

Venues: BBVA Stadium, Houston, TX (Group A matches), HEB Park, Edinburg, TX (Group B matches) and Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA (Semifinals and final)

Participating Teams (listed in alphabetical order): Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis and United States.

Competition Format: The eight participating teams have been sorted into two groups of four teams. After round-robin play, the first and second place finishers of each group will advance to the semifinals. The semifinal winners will automatically qualify for the tournament’s final, as well as the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020.

Schedule
*Kick off times to be confirmed and order of the matches subject to change

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 – BBVA Stadium, Houston, TX
Costa Rica vs Panama 
USA vs Haiti

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 – HEB Park, Edinburg, TX
Mexico vs Jamaica
Canada vs Saint Kitts and Nevis

Friday, January 31, 2020 – BBVA Stadium, Houston, TX
Haiti vs Costa Rica
Panama vs USA

Saturday, February 1, 2020 – HEB Park, Edinburg, TX
Saint Kitts and Nevis vs Mexico
Jamaica vs Canada

Monday, February 3, 2020 – BBVA Stadium, Houston, TX
Panama vs Haiti
USA vs Costa Rica

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 – HEB Park, Edinburg, TX
Jamaica vs Saint Kitts and Nevis
Canada vs Mexico

Friday, February 7, 2020 – Dignity Health Sports Park, Los Angeles, CA
SF1: 1B vs 2A
SF2: 1A vs 2B

Sunday, February 9, 2020 – Dignity Health Sports Park, Los Angeles, CA
F: Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2

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