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

Tarania Clarke, who recently represented Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz during the Olympic Caribbean qualifiers, was stabbed to death in Kingston on Thursday.

Four new players have been named in a 20-player Reggae Girl squad for the upcoming matches in Group B of the Women's Olympic Qualifiers that Jamaica will host from September 30 to October 8.

Some of Jamaica’s disgruntled Reggae Girlz have begun to receive a portion of their payments from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), money that came due on August 30.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts insists the association was taken aback by the threatened protest action of members of the women’s national team, who are still owed money from the Women's World Cup campaign.

Several senior members of the country’s history-making World Cup squad, including Bunny Shaw, Havana Solaun, Toriana Patterson, Allyson Swaby and Lauren Silver, took to social media to air their grouses.

Under a banner declaring No Pay, No Play, the girls posted:

“This is an issue that goes simply beyond “getting paid.” It’s about the girls following in our footsteps. It’s about leaving something better off than when you found it. We signed contracts and have yet to be paid.”

  

According to Ricketts, however, the JFF had been in contact with members of the team regarding FIFA’s late disbursement of funds owed to the JFF, which prevented the payments being made on time“We have been in contact with the girls.  We wrote to them last week expressing our dissatisfaction with how things have unfolded.  Up until now, we have not yet received funds from FIFA,” Ricketts said in an interview with SportsMax Zone.
“We advised the girls that FIFA had indicated to us that the money would be made available at the end of September.  The World Cup ended in July, we certainly thought that we would have got that money, maybe a month thereafter,” he added.

“We wrote to FIFA on the 16th of July making inquiries about the payment and we were advised then that the money would not be paid until the end of September.  We wrote to the girls and we apologized profusely for it and asked that they bear with us and try and understand the situation.”

Ricketts revealed that the original plan was to pay the team at the end of August and that the organisation had made arrangements to pay the women’s team half of what was owed to them.  According to the JFF boss, the process for that payment, which began last week is expected to be completed later this week.

“We really don’t want to be in a fight with the girls.  We would love to amicably and quickly settle this issue so we can go on with the business of football. I honestly thought that they would have understood the situation.”

French attacking player Viviane Asseyi is confident Jamaica international Khadijah ‘Bunny’ Shaw is set to have a major impact for Division 1 Féminine club Bordeaux after netting twice on her official debut.

The 22-year-old Shaw, who signed a two-year deal with the French club just ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, scored twice in a 4-1 win for Bordeaux over Fleury on her official league debut on Saturday.

“For me, she’s a great player.  Because of her size, she already provides a good point of support for us.  She has special physical and technical quality,” Asseyi said.

“Physically, she’s a monster. We see it in training, she moves everyone.  She’s a very good player and good for us,  I know she’ll do well with us.”

In Saturday’s route, Shaw scored in the 75th and 90th minute.  For Jamaica, the player has scored an impressive 31 goal in 24 appearances.  Bordeaux, who finished fourth in the league last season, will be hoping Shaw’s presence will lead the team to a top-two finish, which will see them qualify for the Women's UEFA Champions League next season.

 

Mireya Gray’s 26th-minute strike handed Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz their first win of the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru on Tuesday.

In continuation of their major support beyond the Reggae Girlz’ journey to the recent 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign, the Alacran Foundation has pledged long-term support for the development of women’s football in Jamaica by providing funding to facilitate the team’s preparations for Pan American Games in Lima, Peru from July 26 to August 11 and beyond.

The philanthropic organisation recently collaborated with the Bob Marley Foundation and other sponsors to fund the completion of an intensive three-day training camp from July 20 to 22 in Kingston, Jamaica, staged as part of the team’s preparation for the  Pan American Games.

After years without significant sponsorship, women’s football in Jamaica received a well-needed kick start at the national level from the team’s Global Ambassador, Cedella Marley, of the Bob Marley Foundation, who initiated the partnership with the Alacran Foundation. Focusing on women’s empowerment, the partnership facilitated funding for logistics and access to proper training facilities.

Alessandra Lo Savio, founder of the Alacran Foundation said the entity remains committed to the Reggae Girlz.

“Preparation is a key factor for success, so it was very important for us to help facilitate adequate training camps to ensure our Girlz have a fighting chance,” Lo Savio said.

“I look forward to the future as they’ve set the bar high on a global level.  I believe the accomplishments of the Reggae Girlz so far is only the beginning for women’s football in Jamaica, Lo Savio further added.

During a press conference held on Monday at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel ahead of the Girlz’ departure for the for Peru, Head Coach Hugh Menzies said that “the team is as ready as they can get right now.” He also said: “I just want to make sure that people understand that we are here to compete for our country, but it’s not only that, it’s more about women’s empowerment, and we have to continue that call because we have to change the mindset of people in our country and our culture. This is an opportunity to be on the global platform and show that women can play football too.”

The Pan American Games is a major sporting event held every four years in the Americas featuring summer sports, in which thousands of athletes from nations of the Americas participate in a variety of competitions ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in 2020.

The Reggae Girlz will, for the first time, join the Reggae Boyz to compete in the Pan Am Games.  The Reggae Girlz’ matches will take place on Sunday, July 28 against Mexico; Wednesday, July 31 against Colombia and on Saturday, August 3 against Paraguay.

Sydney Schneider, stand-in team captain of the Reggae Girlz for the 2019 Pan Am Games, hopes to continue on the high after the Girlz’ landmark participation at the recent World Cup competition in France.

She said: “Going to the World Cup, the one word I have for it that I say consistently is just ‘crazy’; just something you can’t really put into words. It’s just such an experience that you can’t really describe, you have to experience it for yourself. If it weren’t for all the support financially and just the support of having people behind us and cheering us on, we wouldn’t have been able to do it, so thank you.”

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.

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