Mexico kickstarted their Copa America campaign with a 1-0 victory over Jamaica at the NRG Stadium, but were left sweating on the fitness of captain Edson Alvarez. 

The West Ham midfielder, who made his 80th appearance for his nation in Texas, was forced off after 30 minutes and was seen visibly upset as he left the pitch. 

Alvarez's club team-mate Michail Antonio thought he had scored Jamaica's first-ever Copa America goal five minutes into the second half, only to see his header ruled out by VAR. 

However, Mexico recovered from that earlier scare, forcing a string of saves from Jahmali Waite before Gerardo Arteaga finally broke the deadlock with a fine finish. 

The result moved El Tricolor level on three points with Venezuela, who beat Ecuador 2-1 in the other Group B clash earlier in the day, but attention quickly turned to the fitness of their captain at full-time. 

“We’re going to wait a couple of days to do some testing on him and to know well what he’s got going on,” head coach Jaime Lozano said after the match.

“He’s extremely important. He’s a leader, he understands the game well. He’s important on the pitch and in the locker room as well.

“You listen to him talk, he has a way with words and when he speaks you listen. This was a tough blow for all of us.”

Defender Cesar Montes told reporters: "It was extremely important to start on the right foot, always focussed, together, and (now) the only bad news is that our team-mate suffered an injury that we hope is not serious and can return with us.

"(But) these situations are not simple, the doctor will have to evaluate to see if he can continue with us (for the rest of the tournament). For the group he is the leader, a very important piece and it will be good to know his diagnosis in view of what is coming."

Jamaica play Ecuador in Las Vegas on Wednesday, while Mexico face Venezuela in California next Thursday. 
 

To say that Jody Brown’s signing of her first professional contract with Portuguese women’s top-flight club, SL Benfica, is a milestone achievement for both her career and Jamaican football would be a great understatement.

Not only will she be the first player from Jamaica or the Caribbean to parade her skills for the club, which is one of Europe’s most prestigious setups, but she will also realize a lifelong dream on a journey that started on the streets of Lime Hall, St Ann, where she honed her skills with a makeshift ball and an insatiable passion for the game.

It was during that time, when she rubbed shoulders with the boys in her community, that her talent quickly became evident, resulting in her inclusion in local teams and, eventually, Jamaica’s national programme.

Now, the 22-year-old takes a significant step forward in her career with the three-year move to Benfica, where her athleticism and nippy footwork will certainly be an asset.

“Signing with Benfica is a dream come true," Brown told SportsMax.TV, the pride and emotion evident in her tone.

Brown puts pen to paper

“I remember when I just started playing football with the boys in my community, I always aspired to play professionally, and to do so with a club like Benfica is an incredible honour. It’s a nice club, with a lot of history and I always strived to ensure that whichever club I join is one where I can improve and develop my game at a different level. So I’m really excited to join Benfica and can’t wait to get started,” she declared.

Brown's rise in football has been somewhat meteoric, as she first captured international attention at the Under-15 level and she hasn’t looked back since.

In fact, Brown is one of only a few players who have so far represented the country at all four levels — Under-15, Under-17, Under-20 and now the senior level. And she has done so with distinction, as she played a crucial role in Jamaica's historic qualification for the 2019 and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cups.

"Being a part of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz has been an amazing experience. It's where I learned to handle pressure and developed my game against some of the best players in the world and I can say that those experiences have prepared me for this next step in my career,” she shared.

“If I should attribute my rise to this level to anything, I would say it is a testament of all the hard work, dedication, and support from my family, coaches, and teammates over the years,” added Brown, who recently assisted Florida State University to the NCAA Division 1 Women's Championship and their retention of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship title last season.

Brown shares the occasion with former Reggae Girlz Head coach Hue Menzies.

Standing at a shade over 5ft 2in, Brown’s physical presence is by no means imposing, but when the ball is at her feet, she is bound to cause all kinds of problems. It is that explosiveness and the ease at which she glides past opponents on occasions that will make the Reggae Girlz winger a key factor at SL Benfica.

Beyond that, Brown, who has a Bachelor's degree in Humanities, believes the club’s strong commitment to developing talent, coupled with the fact that the Portuguese league is known for its technical style of play, provides the perfect environment for her to continue her growth.

“The opportunity to train and play at such a high level is something I'm really looking forward to as I always aim to grow more as a player and a person, so I can't wait to learn from my new teammates and coaches and to contribute to the team's success. Benfica has a fantastic reputation, and I'm excited to be part of this club's journey,” she noted.

⁠Still, Brown is aware that adjusting to live in Portugal and her club will by no means be easy, but she remains grounded and focused, with a stubborn determination to make a positive impact both on and off the field.

Benfica, the current champions of Portugal, will be involved in Champions League football next season.

“⁠I’m just ready to get settled and hopefully achieve all the goals of the team. I’m ready to adapt in every way possible because that’s a part of the journey of wanting to be the best person or player in an environment where you are not afraid to be yourself. I know what I’m capable of doing and I’m just going to continue learning and improving,” the soft-spoken player said with an air of confidence.

Brown shows off her team scarf.

Meanwhile, former Reggae Girlz Head coach Hue Menzies, who along with Lorne Donaldson, Andrew Price and others were instrumental in Brown’s move from Jamaica to an overseas university, pointed out that her signing is not only a personal achievement, but also a significant moment for Jamaican women's football.

For him, it highlights the growing opportunities for talented players from the island to make their mark on the global stage, as he expressed optimism that Brown’s success will serve as an inspiration to young footballers in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

“It shows that with talent and determination, they too can reach the pinnacle of the sport. We knew she was going to be a special player, so we invested the effort to get her through the process, because she was only 14, so we had to get her acclimated academically and then get her into the youth club system.

“From there, we got her into high school academically and then having opportunities to go to a four-year school immediately after. And then into a really good programme at Florida State where she won two national titles, and four conference titles and she's now becoming a professional player,” Menzies explained.

“So everything that we kind of set forward for her has come through so far, and we are very optimistic that she will continue. We can't take credit for Jody’s football development because she is a natural, we just assisted in the environment that we got her in, and then she took it from there with the goals that she set for herself,” he ended. 

 

The Caribbean region’s best young golfers are set to descend upon Jamaica’s Caymanas Golf Course soon to participate in the 36th staging of the Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championship.

Teams will start arriving in Jamaica on July 1 with the competition set to take place from July 3-5 with the first tee time set at 7:00 AM local time.

There will be eight competing countries and these include hosts Jamaica, defending champions Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Among these countries, there will be approximately 85 participants taking part in the championships split into the Boys and Girls 18 & Under, Boys & Girls 15 & Under and Boys & Girls 13 & Under categories.

The official media launch for the junior golf showcase was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Thursday.

“The hosting of this prestigious event represents not only a celebration of golf, but it also fulfils our mandate by providing a platform for our junior golfers to hone their skills in addition to being a testament to the spirit of sportsmanship, camaraderie and youthful exuberance that thrives in our Caribbean region,” said President of the Jamaica Golf Association, Jodi Munn-Barrow, at Thursday’s launch.

Lead sponsors of the July 3-5 championships are BCIC Insurance Company Limited and their CEO, Peter Levy, expressed happiness to be a part of this competition.

“It’s an opportunity for us to reaffirm BCIC’s commitment to youth development through our title sponsorship of this prestigious event,” he said.

“BCIC has always believed in the power of sport to shape our society and we see this partnership as an investment in the dreams and aspirations of young golfers across the Caribbean,” he added.

Also on hand to give a glimpse of what to expect from the course itself was Caymanas Golf Club General Manager, Peter Lindo.

“Our picturesque little course in St. Catherine eagerly awaits the talented young golfers who will be representing their countries. Our course superintendent, Mr. Jerry Hardy, and out groundskeepers have been working meticulously preparing the course taking every measure possible to present optimal playing conditions,” he said.

“We’ve had some unusually hot dry weather up until last week and that little spell of rain has given us an even greener landscape. One of the challenges we’ve had over the years is the deterioration of our bunkers and Jamaica Aggregates Limited were very kind in donating sand which will go a very long way in the resuscitation of the bunkers,” he added.

Other main sponsors for the championship include Sandals Foundation, R&A, Fleetwood, ORCA Golf, Caribbean Golf Association, CMK Bakery and Digicel Business.

 

For Demarai Gray, the journey to recover from a broken collarbone in time for the Copa America has been a testament of resilience, passion, and an unwavering commitment to representing Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.

The England-born winger, who suffered the injury earlier this year, while representing Saudi Pro League club Al-Ettifaq, recently returned to fitness, and his joy and excitement about being back in Jamaica’s setup are palpable, as he prepares to parade his skills in one of the most prestigious tournaments in international football.

“It's good to be back; I was disappointed that I missed the World Cup qualifiers, but I'm happy the boys got the six points. I am glad to be back with the boys and excited for this tournament,” Gray said in an interview with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) media.

“It was a difficult end (to the season) with the injury, I had about six weeks out, but over the last few weeks, I've been working and trying to get as fit as possible for the Copa. So, we've got a few more days for me to build, and hopefully I can get off to a good start against Mexico,” he added.