Jamaica’s Senior Women’s head coach Hue Menzies says Saturday’s Scotiabank NextPlay festival at CIBC Fire Pitch was a telling display of the unifying power of football.
Some 85 children under 11 years old – 40 of them from four Caribbean territories and the others from the surrounding Chicago area – intertwined in a confluence of cultures with football the bonding agent.
The children from Jamaica, The Bahamas, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago were the winners of their respective Scotiabank NextPlay Cup tournaments played among primary schools.
As part of their prize, they were flown to Chicago to integrate and to also immerse themselves into the Gold Cup experience, which is another initiative in the continued build-out of the NextPlay platform.
On Saturday at CIBC Fire Pitch, the kids from diverse backgrounds took part in various fun activities but were ultimately united by the power of football.
At the end of the day’s activities, total strangers had formed bonds, some of them taking the first steps to even becoming friends down the road.
Menzies, Concacaf’s Female Football Coach of the Year, says the game has a language of its own and had the moving force to break down barriers as it relates to race, class, and creed.
 “Football does not discriminate, which is very good. Here you have different creeds, different colors, and different socio-economical backgrounds, but NextPlay exemplifies here a unifying of the different cultures and I hope Concacaf and Scotiabank will sustain this program throughout the Caribbean,” he said.
 “Football is a common language as it does not matter where you are from it just evolves and the values of football don’t change, so it’s easy to bring people together and we need to take advantage of the game to make the environment better,” Menzies added.
As a special guest at Saturday’s event, the USA-based Jamaican coach said he used the opportunity to speak to as many kids as he could, urging them to make the best of the opportunities that have come their way through the NextPlay Program.
“I told the kids that everybody is not going to go on to be professional players.  "But they must listen and learn and take the qualities they get out of football as it is an avenue and vehicle for the rest of their lives because the things they learn here no one can take away and they just need to apply that in life,” Menzies noted.
 Meanwhile, Concacaf’s Director of Football Jason Roberts says while it was pleasing to see kids from varied backgrounds coming together on Saturday, that manifestation addresses another critical aspect of the NextPlay portfolio.
“It speaks to the integration of the program with boys and girls of different ages interacting… and then you get that interaction from the kids from the Caribbean, who have been a part of the NextPlay program. 
“Today (Saturday) It started as the kids being a little stand-offish, but by the end of it, through football, through interaction of playing and being teammates, you see the bonds start to develop between kids from different sides of the world with various issues, but what we find is that football is that singular thing that brings them together.
“I think as proud as we are at Concacaf in putting football first, our competitions, how we are developing football, I think we are equally proud how we are using football as a vehicle for social change,” Roberts ended.
Also attending Saturday’s event were Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio, Scotiabank’s Director of International Sponsorship Nelson Lanza, Executive Director of Chicago Sports Commission Kara Bachman and Chicago Park District Deputy Chief Program Officer Timothy O’Connell.

Despite poor results, the Reggae Girlz made their mark at FIFA Women's World Cup.

Reggae Girlz forward Kayla McCoy said it is difficult to accept that she will not be able to play for her country in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that began last Sunday but has committed to try to help her team in any way she can.

The 22-year-old former Duke University star who was drafted by the Houston Dash in February partially tore an ACL when she hyper-extended her knee during the Jamaicans’ last warm-up game against fellow World Cup debutantes Scotland on May 28.

A subsequent MRI revealed the worst possible news for McCoy, just over a week before the start of the tournament.

“It’s definitely disappointing to have come all this way to get injured a week before the competition and it’s difficult not being able to help the team on the field and play,” McCoy told Sportsmax.TV while adding that she is grateful for the chance to remain with the team even though she is unable to play.

“But it really means a lot that my coaches both with Jamaica and back home allowed me to stay on with the team. It has allowed me to still participate in the World Cup experience and be with the team as they compete and make history!”

Now that the tournament has begun, she anticipates that she will be able to contribute in some way to the campaign.

“While I am here I hope to help my team in any way that I can and fully take in the whole experience, and maybe one day I’ll have the chance to get back here.

The Reggae Girlz lost their opening match on Sunday 3-0 to Brazil.


Jamaica women’s football team coach Hue Menzies is already plotting a quick recovery for the national team following a 3-0 loss to Brazil, on their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut, on Sunday.

The Reggae Girlz put in a creditable performance against their noted South American opponents but were in truth short of any real answers, on the heels of a three-goal blitz from Cristiane Rozeira.  The result put the Jamaicans at the bottom of a tough four-team Group C, hardly the ideal start, but the coach was quick to insist the team has plenty yet to play for.

“We’re still in it.  We just have to look at fixing our back line and let’s get Bunny (Khadijah Shaw) more involved,” Menzies said.

Shaw the team’s top scorer was indeed mostly a fringe figure, with sporadic touches on the ball throughout the fixture, but proved to be a menace when she did manage to get possession. 

The forward’s fierce 30th-minute strike was just tipped over the top by Brazilian goalkeeper Bárbara and she saw a 50th-minute header drift just wide of the target.  Menzies insisted the loss would not be a major setback and pointed to the fact that the team recovered from a tough situation to seal it historic qualification for the World Cup.

“We’ve lost games before, we just have to pick it up and get after it.  We lost to Canada got back and beat Costa Rica. So we just have to pick it up and get back in the business.”

Jamaica will next tackle Italy on June 14 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz got off to a tough start to the FIFA Women’s World, following a 3-0 humbling at the hands of top 10-ranked team Brazil, at the Stade des Alpes on Sunday.

Despite the absence of many-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year Marta, the South Americans proved to have too much firepower for the World Cup debutantes.  The experienced Cristiane Rozeira’s, who netted a hat-trick, proved to be a more than an adequate deputy.

The Brazilians entered the game on the back of a nine-game winless streak but any jitters they may have felt were settled early on.  Rozeira gave the South Americans the lead in the 15-minute with a well-timed header that flew wide of Jamaica custodian Sydney Schneider.

Schneider, who would have plenty to do throughout the contest, came up big to ensure the Jamaicans did not fall further behind when she dove smartly to her right to stop Andressa Alves’ 40th-minute penalty. 

The reprieve would, however, be short-lived as Rozeira increased the lead when she slid in at the back post to tap in from close range five minutes into the second half.

The brilliant Brazilian would well and truly end the game as a contest with a sublime bit of talent in the 64th minute.  The forward’s stunning freekick, from just outside the area, curled over the head of Schneider to smack the underside of the crossbar before bouncing just over the line.  The tally marked the 8th hat-trick and 91st  goals of her career. The Jamaicans pressed well late on but could not find their debut goal.

Jamaica’s mercurial striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw is a dream maker. 

Reggae Girlz star forward Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw has signed a two-year contract with Football Club des Girondinis de Bordeaux, a French professional club based in the city of Bordeaux. The club currently plays in Ligue 1, the first division of French football.

 The signing took place on Thursday, June 6, at the team hotel in France.

 "I am so happy for Khadija on her signing with Bordeaux,” said an elated Reggae Girlz head coach Hue Menzies.

 “She has completed a degree in Communications, her national team is in the World Cup and now she has signed to be a professional footballer, what a year for this young lady, who with great sacrifice and commitment has gone far in achieving her dreams; such an impactful accomplishment for all young people in Jamaica."

 The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) also congratulated Khadija Shaw on the signing.


Jamaica has named Mireya Grey, described as the ‘perfect replacement’ for injured forward Kayla McCoy in the Reggae Girlz squad that begins their 2019 FIFA World Cup campaign on Sunday against Brazil.

Reggae Girlz midfielder Marlo Sweatman said the team was extremely grateful for the foodstuff donated by members of the Jamaicans in Switzerland Association last weekend.

Jamaicans in Switzerland responded to a call put out on behalf of the Reggae Girlz, who bow into World Cup action on Sunday, June 9 against Brazil.

The team that arrived in France late last week for their final preparations, received a pleasant surprise on the weekend from members of the Jamaican Association in Switzerland (JAS) who donated water and food supplies for the history-making women.

Rashid Hall, President of the JAS, who spearheaded the cause, said they were happy to come to the aid of the Reggae Girlz.

“We saw this as an opportunity. We sent a message out within our database asking for support, asking for people to make donations towards helping the team and people responded favourably and we were able to purchase a number of items to help the team,” he said.

He explained that Carole Beckford, the chairperson of an All-Woman Committee tasked with garnering support for the Reggae Girlz, had reached out to a few Jamaicans in Geneva asking if there was anything they could do to help the team.

“They reached out to me because of me being the president of the Jamaica Association in Switzerland and because we have been asking before about ways for us to assist the team but were not getting much information,” he said.

With their pooled resources, the Jamaicans supplied the World Cup team with 25 cases of water, about 300 oranges, watermelons, boxes of cereal, oats, 50 boxes of nutrition bars.

“Things that they would be able to use outside their normal eating hours. We also bought some Jamaican items from a lady who does that in Switzerland – corned beef, banana chips, pepper, water crackers, just for them to get a little feeling of home. Things that can snack on their rooms, things that they can carry to training, on the bus when they are travelling,” Hall said.

“For us, it was really a blessing to be able to assist the team.”

The support doesn’t end there as the Jamaicans in Switzerland are also planning to attend matches as well.

“A number of us have bought tickets,” said Hall who will be attending the Reggae Girlz final group match against Australia on June 18. He will miss the two earlier games because of work. Hall is the sponsorship coordinator for CAA11, UEFA’s exclusive sponsorship and media agency.

The job requires him to be in Porto for the Nations League finals and thus, prevents him from attending the matches against Brazil and Italy.

“Quite a number of persons have bought tickets and are going out in droves,” Hall said.

“This is a chance for us to help them in another way and we are just happy to be able to assist. By right our focus is on early childhood education which is why we couldn’t take funds from our actual account but in any case when needs like this arise we still have the ability to ask persons on a one-off basis to donate and they did that and we were able to buy the stuff and carry it to them.

“The team was in good spirits they were very happy for the Jamaican products. Right now, they are overflowing with things. They can focus on the games. They can focus on preparing. We are happy to make that the case.”

Hall said their voices will be loud in the stands when the matches begin as they continue to lend their support to the Reggae Girlz.

“As I said to the girls, now we are going to be supporting in a different way, with our voices in the stands being very loud, being very present and we wish them all the best.”





Injured Reggae Girlz forward Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw and Kayla McCoy are being assessed on a daily basis with the hope that they will be ready to take the field when Jamaica opens its 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign on June 9.

Reggae Girlz forward Khadija Shaw suffered a sprained ankle during the Reggae Girlz 3-2 loss to Scotland on Tuesday and it remains unclear when she will return to action with the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup set to kick off in 12 days' time.

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