Jamaica Reggae Girlz team and coach Hue Menzies have been rewarded for an outstanding 2018 by scooping the CONCACAF Outstanding Performance and Women’s Football Coach of the Year awards.

The Jamaicans made history when they became the first Caribbean team to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup after a penalty shootout win over Panama in the CONCACAF Qualifiers last year. 

Menzie who took over the position of technical director of the women’s program three years ago has been a fixture of the national program since.  At one point the coach went for several months without receiving an actual salary from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

The team’s star striker Khadijah Shaw also received some recognition after being nominated for Female Player of the Year award, along with the USA’s Lindsey Horan and the eventual winner Alex Morgan.  She was also nominated in the goal of the year category for a spectacular strike in the team’s win over Cuba.

The 2018 Male Player of the Year award went to Mexico’ s Hirving Lozano.  Lozano’s year was highlighted by an exceptional performance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

 

Male Player of the Year

  1. Hirving Lozano (MEX) - PSV Eindhoven/NED
  2. Keylor Navas (CRC) - Real Madrid CF/ESP
  3. Sebastian Giovinco (ITA) - Toronto FC/CAN

 

Female Player of the Year

  1. Alex Morgan (USA) - Orlando Pride/USA
  2. Khadija Shaw (JAM) - University of Tennessee/USA
  3. Lindsey Horan (USA) - Portland Thorns FC/USA

 

Male Goalkeeper of the Year

  1. Keylor Navas (CRC) - Real Madrid CF/ESP
  2. Guillermo Ochoa (MEX) - Standard Liège/BEL
  3. Cody Laurendi (PUR) - Oklahoma City Energy/USA

 

Female Goalkeeper of the Year

  1. Alyssa Naeher (USA) - Chicago Red Starts/USA
  2. Yenith Bailey (PAN) - Sporting SM/PAN
  3. Stephanie Labbe (CAN) - Linköpings FC/SWE

 

Men's Football Coach of the Year

  1. Matias Almeyda (ARG) - San Jose Earthquakes/USA (Formerly CD Guadalajara/MEX)
  2. Remko Bicentini (CUW) - Curacao National Team
  3. Juan Carlos Osorio (COL) - Paraguay National Team (Formerly Mexico National Team)

 

Women's Football Coach of the Year

  1. Hue Menzies (JAM) - Jamaica Women's National Team/Florida Kraze Krush/USA
  2. Jill Ellis (USA) - United States Women's National Team
  3. Monica Vergara (MEX) - Mexico U-17 Women's National Team

 

Male Referee of the Year

  1. Cesar Arturo Ramos (MEX)
  2. Mark Geiger (USA)
  3. Joel Aguilar (SLV)

 

Female Referee of the Year

  1. Lucila Venegas (MEX)
  2. Crystal Sobers (TRI)
  3. Carol Anne Chenard (CAN)

 

Goal of the Year

  1. Joe Corona (MEX) - SCCL: Club America (MEX) vs Tauro FC (PAN), 19'
  2. Alan Pulido (MEX) - SCCL: CD Guadalajara (MEX) vs Toronto FC (CAN), 72'
  3. Khadija Shaw (JAM) - CWC: Jamaica vs Cuba, 2'

 

Outstanding Performance Award

Jamaica Women's National Team

Khadija Shaw should be over the moon. Way over the moon.  

But instead, the Jamaica Reggae Girlz striker has opted to remain grounded with her latest accolade as she was named The Guardian newspaper’s Footballer of the Year.  

By nature, Shaw is a quiet, unassuming and supremely humble individual, so her low-key reaction to the prestigious award by the respected British daily surprised only a few.  

“This is just like any other award for me though every award is very important, but I just want to continue looking at the positives and continue to work hard,” Shaw said from her Jamaican heartland of Spanish Town.  

“To be honest, I feel good about it although I didn’t expect this award; but I have been working hard all year and they say once you put in the work, good things will happen and so I am pleased about it,” said the 21-year-old.  

Shaw, who attends the University of Tennessee in the United Sates, was an instrumental figure in Jamaica’s historic qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 and led her team to the glorious achievement through the qualifying rounds with an impressive 19 goals, the most by any player.  

It was this accomplishment, plus meeting The Guardian’s rarified criteria that propelled Shaw to become the first female to win the award since its inception in 2016.  

The Guardian award for Footballer of the Year is given to a player who has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others, or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty.  

The Jamaican darling of women’s football is only the third recipient of the award and joins the ranks of world superstars Italian Fabio Piscane in 2016 and Spain’s Juan Mata in 2017.  

“When I heard the names of those who have won it before, I feel even more honored as the first female to win, but at the end of the day, I just want to remain humble and hopefully more will come,” Shaw said. 

Even though the award went to the Jamaican forward as individual recognition, she wished to share it with her teammates.  

 “Everything happened because of my teammates, so I just want to continue focusing on the team, and once we continue working hard as a team, hopefully, I won’t be the only one winning awards, but my other teammates will as well, or we get it as a group,” noted Shaw.  

The former St Jago High School star, who has represented Jamaica at every level – Under-15, Under-17, Under-20 and senior – was singled out for the award because of her display of inner-strength in overcoming personal tragedy and how she managed to stay on top of her game through it all. 

Hers is a story of inspiration, and Shaw has embraced her standing as a model of resilience and exemplary conduct. 

Her life story has a deadly twist having lost four of her brothers — three to Jamaica’s high rate of crime and violence and another to a vehicular accident. 

 “Football, to me, is just more than the sport itself, it is to inspire others, so I am willing to do whatever I can to inspire others — whether it be playing on the soccer field or giving motivational speeches. 

 “So just winning these awards can show others that if I can do it, they can do it also,” she noted. 

The Guardian’s Footballer of the Year award adds to her 2018 collection, having already copped the Jamaican Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Sport. Shaw is also a nominee for Sportswoman of the Year, the most prestigious award for Jamaicans who have excelled in the arena of sport.

Despite several new sponsors coming on board since their historic World Cup qualification in October, Reggae Girlz head coach Hue Menzies said they will need much, much more as they prepare for their first World Cup campaign.

 Reggae Girl Nicole McClure said it was a surreal moment when Jamaica qualified for the 2019 World Cup in France.

Jamaica defender Lauren Silver sees the significant rise of the Reggae Girlz in the FIFA Women World rankings as a sign of the team’s progress.

Caribbean Airlines is now the official airline of Jamaica’s world-cup bound Reggae Girlz, the Jamaica Football Federation announced on Wednesday.

Michael Ricketts, President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) said it was welcome news that the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), is to fund the world-cup bound women’s team to the tune of in excess of US$150,000 (approx.J$20 million).

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz have come in for praise from the man who guided Jamaica’s men’s team to their very first World Cup two decades ago – Rene Simoes.

After being thrust into the limelight at the crucial moment, Reggae Girlz back-up goalkeeper Nicole McClure has admitted it was tough being left out of the starting line-up but stayed ready to deliver when called upon.

The United States clinched its eighth consecutive berth at the FIFA Women's World Cup with a 6-0 semifinal victory over Jamaica at the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship at Toyota Stadium on Sunday night.

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