In the face of adversity and ongoing disputes, the Jamaica Football Federation has announced a 22-player squad for two crucial international friendly matches against Chile on February 23 and 27. However, the squad is notably missing key senior first-team players who continue to abstain due to unresolved issues with the football federation, primarily revolving around unpaid fees and related concerns.

The delegation set to represent Jamaica in these significant international friendly encounters includes a mix of talented players from various backgrounds and universities. Among them are standout athletes like Theana Burnett from Sacred Heart University, Serena Mensa from Fordham University, and Sydnie Street from Seneca College. The team boasts a diverse roster, showcasing players from institutions such as George Mason University, SCU Torreense, and SK Slavia Praha Zeny.

Despite the absence of the senior first-team players, the selected squad is ready to face the formidable Chilean opponents. The delegation, consisting of both local officials and SWNT (Senior Women's National Team) players, is scheduled to depart from Jamaica on Tuesday, February 20. The entire team will assemble in Chile a day later, brimming with determination and unity.

The list of players includes Nevillegail Able from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Alika Keene from SK Slavia Praha Zeny, and Ricshya Walker from LaSalle University, among others. Each player brings their unique skills and experiences to the field, forming a cohesive unit ready to represent Jamaica on the international stage.

Leading the charge is the coaching and support staff, with Xavier Gilbert at the helm as the Head Coach, supported by Assistant Coach Jermaine Thomas, Team Manager Crystal Walters, and Team Doctor Ruchelle Brown. The staff also includes physiotherapist Ashley Stephens, masseur Devin Lawson, GK Coach Everdean Scarlet, equipment manager Omar Folkes, and trainer Leacroft Lettman. Heading the delegation is Paul Beckford, the Head of Delegation.

Full squad: Theana Burnett, Sacred Heart University; Serena Mensa, Fordham University; Sydnie Street, Seneca College; Zoe Vidaurre, George Mason University; Nevillegail Able, University of Maine at Fort Kent; Chinyelu Asher, SCU Torreense; Alika Keene, SK Slavia Praha Zeny; Ricshya Walker, LaSalle University; Marlo Sweatman, Viktoria Haladas; Christina Salmon, William Carey University; Davia Richards, Hill College; Mikayla Dayes, Rodez AF (France); Shaneil Buckley, XLCR; Melissa Johnson, Charlton Athletic Women FC; Aliyah Morgan, George Mason University; Jade Bailey, London City Lionessess; Destiny Powell, XLCR; Lachante Paul, Burnley FC; Isreala Groves, London City Lionesses; Naya Cardoza, Brown University; Njeri Butts, University Of Florida; Lexi Lloyd-Smith, Southampton FC Women's.

 

 

 

With members of last year’s senior Reggae Girlz FIFA World Cup squad and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) still yet to amicably agree on the way forward, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert has once again pooled a fairly inexperienced team for a two-match friendly against Chile later this month.

Gilbert, who welcomed the fixtures, and his Reggae Girlz is expected to assemble in the South American country on February 21, ahead the two games scheduled for February 23 and 27.

“It is always important to utilize the FIFA windows so getting these games is a good move from the JFF and, of course, we get to expose some of the young talent that we have to offer to top level competition so they can gain the necessary experience that will be required as we look ahead,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

The 22-player squad comprises mostly players that contested last year’s Women’s Gold Cup qualifiers, with former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey, who recently signed with London City Lionesses, making a return to the national setup following a knee surgery, while National Under-17 representative Naya Cardoza, makes her transition to the senior team.

“It is very good to have Jade back she is a very good player who was out for quite some time, so it is good to have her back in the fold giving her level of experience and we expect her to be one of the leaders in the team where guiding the younger players is concerned,” Gilbert noted.

This will be the second two-match friendly series between the two teams following their 2019 meeting in Jamaica, which the Reggae Girlz won 1-0 and 3-2. However, Chile came away 6-0 winners in their most recent meeting at last year’s Pan American Games.

“We are expecting another good game from Chile, obviously they are a pretty good team with a lot to offer. It is never comfortable going into another team’s base to play, so we just have to go there and give of our best, because like I said, these games are important for players to not only gain experience, but also to develop some semblance of cohesion going forward,” Gilbert reasoned.

Squad: Theanna Burnett (Sacred Heart University), Serena Mensa (Fordham University), Malikae Dayes (AAB, Denmark), Zoe Vidaurre (George Mason University), Nevillegail Able (University of Maine, Fort Kent), Chinyelu Asher (SCU Torreense), Alika Keene (SK Slavia Praha Zeny), Ricshya Walker (LaSalle University), Marlo Sweatman (Viktoria Haladas), Christina Salmon (William Carey University), Davia Richards Player (Hill College),Mikayla Dayes (Rodez AF, France), Shaneil Buckley (Excelsior High), Melissa Johnson (Charlton Athletic Women FC), Aliyah Morgan (George Mason University), Jade Bailey (London City Lionessess), Destiny Powell (Excelsior High), Lachante Paul (Burnley FC), Isreala Groves (London City Lionesses), Naya Cardoza (Brown University), Njeri Butts (University Of Florida), Sydnie Street (Seneca College)

World champions Shericka Jackson and Antonio Watson were crowned Jamaica’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the year, respectively, at the 2023 RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Friday.

Jackson claimed the award for the first time after a phenomenal 2023 season which saw her successfully defend her World 200m title with a personal best 21.41, the second fastest time ever, in Budapest in August.

In addition to her 200m title, Jackson also ran 10.72 for 100m silver. She ended her season with the sprint double at the Diamond League Final in Eugene with times of 10.70 and 21.57, respectively, in September.

The 29-year-old also achieved a new personal best in the 100m with 10.65, the fifth fastest time ever, to defend her National title in July.

Antonio Watson shocked the world to become the first Jamaican man in 40 years to win 400m gold at the World Championships.

After running a massive personal best 44.14 in the semi-finals, the 22-year-old produced 44.22 to take gold in the final. Watson also ran 44.54 for second at the National Championships in July.

Watson also took home the people’s choice award for his gold medal winning performance.

Danielle Williams was named runner-up for Sportswoman of the Year while Hansle Parchment was runner-up for Sportsman of the Year.

Williams, like Watson, shocked the world in Budapest by claiming her second 100m hurdles World title, the other coming all the way back in 2015.

Parchment, the reigning Olympic champion, claimed his second World Championship silver medal with a 13.07 effort in Budapest. He followed that up in September with a new personal best 12.93 to win at the Diamond League Final in Eugene.

The recipient of the 2023 Icon Award was 400m hurdles Olympic and World champion Deon Hemmings-McCatty while West Indies Under-19 batsman Jordan Johnson was named the winner of the VM Group Y.O.U.T.H award.

Some other athletes receiving awards for their individual sports included CAC Games bronze medallist Tahlia Richardson for badminton, Ricardo “Big 12” Brown for boxing, Sherea Clarke and Wayne McCalla for bodybuilding, West Indies batter Rashada Williams for cricket and Sara Misir and Fraser McConnell for motorsport.

Arguably Jamaica’s two most successful sports teams, the Sunshine Girls and the Reggae Girls, were given special awards for their performances in 2023.

The Reggae Girls were rewarded for their historic performance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from July 20-August 20.

They became the first Caribbean team ever, male or female, to advance to the Round of 16 at a FIFA World Cup.

The Sunshine Girls also had a historically good year with a gold medal at the CAC Games held in El Salvador from June 25-29 and bronze at the Netball World Cup held from July 28-August 6 in South Africa.

That World Cup also saw the Jamaicans get their first ever World Cup win over world number one and eventual champions, Australia.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts, said he is saddened that both Cedella Marley, as well as the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation have opted to cut ties with the country's women's programme.

After Marley resigned from her role as Global Ambassador for Jamaica’s women’s football programme, the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation followed suit and announced its discontinuation of funding support to the JFF and the national women’s programme.

A statement signed by the Foundation’s General Counsel Lecia-Gaye Taylor and released on Thursday, said the decision was not made lightly given their “long and meaningful” partnership with the JFF over the years.

While Marley pointed to the current state of affairs involving the senior Reggae Girlz World Cup representatives and the JFF as reasons behind her departure, the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation said its move was to reassess its priorities.

“We have been privileged to witness the growth and development of women’s football in Jamaica, and we are proud of the achievements and progress that have been made during our collaboration.

“However, as circumstances change and our foundations evolves, we must reassess our priorities and the impact of our funding on various causes and organizations. In light of our revised focus and funding priorities, we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer continue our financial support of the JFF programme,” the statement read.

Like Marley, the Foundation expressed its commitment to the empowerment of girls and the development of women’s football in Jamaica and, as such, will continue its support under the Football is Freedom initiative.

Both Marley and the Foundation, have been instrumental benefactors to the country’s governing football body over the years and their absence have started to raise questions about how the JFF will fill that huge gap in its JFF’s coffers, a fact Ricketts is very much aware of.

“I am saddened by the unfortunate decision of Miss Marley to cut ties with the women's programme at this time. This is even more so as we are of the view that we had made significant progress in the discussions and are just awaiting the World Cup players to come back to us and advise of their availability. We must thank Miss Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation for all the support that they have given over time. We want to assure her that the gains that have been made will be concretised as we move into the future,” Ricketts said in a release.

“We are happy that she [Marley] will continue to lend support to local women's football through the "Football is Freedom" initiative and are eager to offer any support that might be requested. The JFF no doubt will always welcome the contribution of Miss Marley as we continue to develop women's football and provide a path for the young girls in Jamaica,” he ended.

 

 

Despite falling three places to number 40 in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, Jamaica's Reggae Girlz held firm as the fourth-ranked team in Concacaf heading into the new year.

The Jamaicans, who drew three and lost one of their last four matches in Women's Gold Cup qualifiers between the last two windows, remain behind second-ranked United States, 10th-ranked Canada, and Mexico, who inched one spot up to 35th in the rankings released on Friday. 

Meanwhile, Haiti, who have attained their highest ever placing at 51st, along with Trinidad and Tobago (78th) and Guyana at 87th, are the next best Caribbean teams on the FIFA rankings list.

At the other end of the rankings, World Champions Spain took pole position for the first time, overtaking United States. Spain is only the fourth team to reach the summit of the rankings after the United States, Germany and Sweden.

France moved two spots up to third, as England held firm in fourth, while Sweden slipped four places into fifth. Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea DPR, and Canada (10th) complete the top 10 in that order, which no longer features Brazil, who slipped two places to 11th.

Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz remain in a tough position to make next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, despite coming from behind to secure a 1-1 stalemate with Panama in their penultimate qualifying fixture at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Marta Cox gave Panama a 31st-minute lead from the penalty spot, but that was cancelled out by Shaneil Buckley's 45th minute strike, which ensured the Jamaicans a share of the spoils.

With the point, Panama inched up to seven points and booked their spot in the inaugural women's Gold Cup, while the Jamaicans, who were earning their second point, must beat second-placed Guatemala (four points) on Sunday to get into the Gold Cup prelims.

Though disappointed that they didn't secure all three points on this occasion, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert is backing his team to get by Guatemala on Sunday.

"It was a competitive game, unfortunately things didn't go entirely according to plan, of course we wanted to win, but we also wanted to ensure that we didn't lose tonight, that was our first objective.  We are still in with a shot with just have to get the job done against Guatemala, in terms of speed and depth, we have a better unit and so I fancy our chances more against Guatemala," Gilbert said in a post-match interview.

The contest started at a decent tempo with the Jamaicans using their pace and athleticism to exploit the wide channels, as they were more threatening in open play, but were unable to make the most of their half chances.

In the ninth Melissa Johnson broke down the right channel and should have at least tested Yenith Bailey in goal for Panama, but the build-up was undone by indecision.

Nine minutes later, Buckely broke down the right and played a pass inside, and Davia Richards couldn't connect at close range.

Panama patiently played their game and went close in the 28th minute when Cox played a through pass in for Natalia Mills, but Serena Mensah, in goal for Jamaica, left her line well to avert the danger.

However, the visitors were given the opportunity to break the deadlock when Lauren Reid seemingly got ball in a challenge on Mills, but Honduran referee Melissa Borjas Pastrana awarded the penalty, which Cox converted.

The Reggae Girlz probe for the equalizer came on the stroke of half-time when a weighted cross from the left by Malikae Dayes was well finished by Buckley from close range.

Gilbert's side again started purposeful and applied consistent pressure throughout but didn't really put anything meaningful on goal.

In fact, there best effort of the stanza came in the 68th when Njeri Butts cross inside was skipped by captain Chinyelu Asher for Marlo Sweatman, whose shot lacked the power to beat Bailey.

From there, but teams nullified each other, as their search for the winner proved fruitless.

"I don't think we did anything wrong; we just didn't score. We have to score goals to win games and we just didn't get on the scoresheet when we got our chances," Gilbert said, as he also fielded questions about the substitutions.

"We are in a different dynamic from the other teams. They are playing one game and they are finished, while we are playing two games in five days. I know what I am working with, we had to be smart in terms of our approach to each game, so we couldn't be erratic and make a number of substitutions here, I also understand the situation that we are in and we are just going to give it our all on Sunday," he declared.  

Interim Reggae Girlz Head Coach Xavier Gilbert is well aware of the need for his players not only maintain their focus, but also to execute efficiently and consistently for the next over 180-plus minutes, if they are to achieve the desired results in two must-win Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures.

The first will be against a gritty Panama outfit that will be riding high on the fact that they defeated the Jamaicans 2-1 in their first meeting and, more importantly, hold pole position in Group B on six points, which means they only need a point at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Kickoff is at 7:00pm.

For Gilbert and his Girlz, who sit at the foot of the three-team table on a point, the objective is pretty straightforward –win and they are into the group stages of next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.

But the tactician is well aware that it is much easier said than done and, as such, is cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances of taking three points at home, before visiting second-placed Guatemala (four points) away, on Sunday.

“We had three good sessions, and things went well, one player joined us let, but apart from that, all the players have settled in well. They know what is at stake, and you can tell by the mood in the camp that they are ready to give it their best shot,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“They have responded well to our request in terms of adjustment to the system of play, which is good, so what we did, was use the final session (on Tuesday) to tighten up on a few things and areas in which believe we need to strengthen. So, I am optimistic that once they execute how we want them to, we will come out with a positive result,” he added.

Should the Reggae Girlz defeat Panama, it would mean all three teams in the group, could take the top spot, and the outcome would rely on Sunday’s clash between Guatemala and the Jamaicans.

While finishing tops is the priority, the second-placed team would also have a second shot at Gold Cup qualification, as they would enter the preliminary phase of the tournament to oppose to group winners from League’s B and C.

That means, the Girlz could draw with Panama and then beat Guatemala to book the runner-up spot. But, that is no comfort to Gilbert, who is hoping to get the job done the right way.

“The game was a couple of weeks ago. This is a different situation and different circumstances. There is some unrest in their country, I am not sure if that has affected them mentally on this occasion, but we just have to be on our A game,” Gilbert said as he reflected on their away loss to Panama.

“We have to be better than what we were in the last game, and I am sure Panama is also looking to do better, so it's going to be extremely tough for us. Obviously, we've looked at a few things that we're looking to implement as we look to impose more of our will on the game,” he noted.

Gilbert, who is still without his World Cup players due to a prolonged standoff with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), is making do with a squad that boasts more youth than experience –2019 World Cup veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman being the experience.

Still, the likes of Ricshya Walker, Melissa Johnson and Zoe Vidaurre, who all scored in the last window, are very much capable of doing more damage.

Panama will turn to their core group of playmakers in Riley Tanner, Marta Cox and Lineth Cedeno to get the job done, and Gilbert is very much wary of that and is aiming to nullify the trio.

“We are still working to finalize the best 11, so far, we are close to it, but there are still some other pieces to put in place. But the overall expectation heading into the game is to make sure that we get something out of it, which is our objective, and then we will see how it goes,” Gilbert ended.

Interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert will again be without his more established players for the decisive legs of their Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures against Panama and Guatemala on November 29 and December 3.

With the players, who achieved the historic feat of making the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year still out, Gilbert has once again assembled a squad filled with more youth than experience where senior international caps are concerned.

In fact, Sashana “Pete” Campbell is the only experienced player called up to join fellow 2019 World Cup veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman in the team.

The Girlz, who lost 1-2 away to Panama and were held to a 2-2 stalemate at home by Guatemala, are faced with a must-win situation in the League A encounters, if they are to secure an automatic berth to next year’s Women’s Gold Cup.

They currently sit at the foot of the three-team standing with a point. Panama heads the standings on six points, with Guatemala on four. Should the Girlz fail to top the standings, they would at least need to finish second to have another shot at Gold Cup qualification through a playoff contest against a League B group winner.

With that in mind, expectations were that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the World Cup players –who withdrew their services over lack of payment and general “mistreatment” from the governing football body –would have arrived at an amicable settlement, as it is understood that several meetings were planned.

JFF’s General Secretary Dennis Chung explained that meetings were in fact planned but didn’t materialize.

“We had reached out to them and asked them to specify in writing what the details of the mistreatment they allege are, and also to advise us of two dates they want to meet and who the representatives are from their end to discuss, as per the grievance procedures under the contract, as we want to ensure that we do everything according to contract for the protection of all. We didn’t receive any feedback on proposed dates, so we proposed December 8,” Chung told SportsMax.TV.

“Someone said to us they would speak to the players about meeting earlier (Tuesday), but this was not official communication from the players and there was no confirmation from them. And there is still no response to the December 8 proposal, so we have to wait on the feedback,” he added.

However, SportsMax.TV has been reliably informed that the reason for the Girlz silence is due to the fact that they are still yet to be paid in full.

This is contrary to a JFF release on October 27 which states: “The JFF is pleased to advise that, as committed, we have now paid in full balances due to the Women’s World Cup team.”

A source close to the situation denied the claims.

“The players have not received their money and they want it to be made public,” the source shared.

But Chung rebutted.

“As far as we know we have paid all the monies due. I have heard people say that players are due money still, but no one has come to us and say what is outstanding. So, persons outside can say anything, but I have to go by the records we have. If there is money outstanding, then it should be for the players to state what is outstanding, not for people in the public to say money is outstanding. That is not something anyone can act on,” Chung argued.

“Our focus right now is on the upcoming games, while we wait on the response to the proposed date, as we of course want to understand the allegations of mistreatment so that if it is something we need to address then we ensure that it is dealt with for all our players, current and future,” he noted.

The Girlz will face Panama at the National Stadium next Wednesday, before travelling to lock horns with Guatemala a few days later.

Squad: Lauren Reid, Malikae Dayes, Zoe Vidaurre, Chinyelu Asher, Israela Groves, Ricshya Walker, Marlo Sweatman, Davia Richards, Mikayla Dayes, Shaneil Buckley, Melissa Johnson, Aliyah Morgan, Theanna Burnett, Serena Mensa, Shanice Foster, Destiny Powell, Njeri Butts, Sashana Campbell, Shania Harris, Sydnie Street, Javanae Jones, Lachante Paul, Maliah Atkins.

The talent of players from Concacaf can be found all around the world, the latest signing happening in Spain at Real Betis Balompie, who added Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz forward Tiffany Cameron to their roster.

Cameron was part of the Reggae Girlz squad in both of their historical participations at the FIFA Women’s World Cup appearances. The first in France 2019 when they became the first Caribbean nation to qualify, and in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, when they became the first male of female Caribbean team to contest the Round of 16 since Cuba's feat in 1938.

Besides making an impact with her national team, the Canadian-born Cameron has made her presence felt in different teams around the world over the years. So, her current stint in Liga F, Spain's professional women’s football league, with Real Betis Balompie, one of the most popular clubs in the Andalusian region, comes as no real surprise.

Cameron had previous experience in Europe, playing in the Frauen Bundesliga in Germany as well as many other clubs around the continent. Her first venture overseas was with Apollon Limassol of Cyprus, where she played in the most important club competition in Europe, the UEFA Women’s Champions League. In 2015, she scored three goals in the tournament.

She arrived at Real Betis Balompie in June of this year, as she signed with the club until 2025. Full of expectations about her talent, fans were looking forward to seeing the new member of the squad, and even more so after her participation with Jamaica in the Women’s World Cup.

Cameron's impact was an immediate one.

Shortly after debut in Real Betis Balompie’s first game of the season, Cameron's first goal arrived just weeks later against Real Madrid, as she scored the only one for her team in the match, proving she is a key player for the club every time she’s on the field.

With many weeks of the league ahead, the versatile Cameron, who also plays the right-back position for the Reggae Girlz, will try to seize her chances with Real Betis Balompie to not only show her class, but more importantly, continue to grow her game and go above and beyond for her new team.

"Spain is a beautiful country with vibrant people. My teammates have been very welcoming and supportive since I’ve arrived.  I think it’s a great fit for me because I enjoy combinational play and playing with players that express themselves and make football an enjoyable sport to watch. Playing in Spain will improve my decision making overall, as the speed of play in Spain is ranked one of the highest in the world," Cameron shared. 

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) on Friday announced that Interim Head Coach of the Senior Women’s National Team, Xavier Gilbert, would remain coach for the Reggae Girlz upcoming Concacaf W Gold Cup qualifiers.

The Girlz will first host Panama on November 29 before taking on Guatemala away on December 3.

Gilbert took over as Interim Head Coach after the departure of Lorne Donaldson with his first two assignments being a pair of Concacaf W Gold Cup qualifiers against the same two teams on October 25 and 29 with a makeshift squad.

They suffered a 1-2 defeat in Panama on the 25th before playing out a 2-2 draw with Guatemala four days later at the National Stadium.

“The JFF commends Xavier (Gilbert) and the Senior Reggae Girlz for the recent performances against Panama and Guatemala and is grateful for their response to the call to represent Jamaica and the JFF with such sterling performances,” said the JFF in a statement on Friday.

“We look forward to the upcoming games and hope that more fans will turn out to lend their support,” the statement ended.

 Panama currently lead the group with six points from their three games, two points ahead of Guatemala in second and five ahead of the Reggae Girlz in third.

Interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert is hoping his makeshift team can bounce back quickly to not only take three points off Guatemala, but more importantly, put themselves in a much better position to top the qualifying group on their way to next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.

The Girlz, who went down 1-2 away to Panama, are currently at the foot of the three-team Group B in League A of the qualifiers, but a win against Guatemala at the National Stadium on Sunday, would see them back in contention for the coveted top spot.

This, as Panama currently lead with six points from three games, followed by Guatemala with three points from two games, while the Girlz will be contesting their second fixture to be followed by the return leg encounters on November 29 and December 3 respectively.

Sunday’s game is scheduled for 5:00pm.

“I think the ladies can bounce back, but it is going to be a tough encounter similar to what we experienced against Panama. I think the ladies are in a much better place after getting the first game out of the way and we managed to get an extra session in with everybody so that was good,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“The spirits are high, so we just have to come out and execute. As I said before, it is going to be tough, and we are mindful that they (Guatemala) beat Panama before Panama defeated them. We know that they like to shoot from different areas, and I think offensively they are strong, so we just have to nullify their strengths,” he added.

Reflecting on the first game, Gilbert was encouraged by his team’s display for the most part, given the fact that they were pulled together only a few days prior to that game.

In fact, had it not been for an own-goal and a defensive error by Alika Keene in either half of the contest, Gilbert’s makeshift side would have pulled off a highly unexpected win.

“When you look back at the first game against Panama, they really didn’t break us down to score and unfortunately, we didn’t come away with anything because of the own-goal and defensive error. But we have Marlo Sweatman coming in for this game and with her experience in the middle of the park, I think we should give a much better performance on this occasion,” the tactician noted.

Marlo Sweatman, who didn’t make the trip to Panama, joined the team’s training session on Friday. She along with fellow 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup veteran Chinyelu Asher, are expected to do most of the work in the midfield, both from an attacking and defensive perspective.

Sweatman, 28, who currently plays professionally in Hungary, is eager to ply her part in the makeshift Girlz resurgence.

"I am very happy to be here. I have been playing attacking midfield and scoring a lot of goals, and I feel like I am in good form,” she said.

“This is a very young team, and so I will bring in a lot of experience and some leadership, especially in the midfield, as well as off the field, to help them grow as players and as people off the field as well,” Sweatman shared.

Lineth Cedeno scored in the final minutes to lift Panama to a 2-1 win against Jamaica in Group B of League A of the Road to W Gold Cup on Wednesday night at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama.

The victory gives Panama six points through three games and the first-place position in the group, while Jamaica are still hunting for their first points after one match.

Jamaica enjoyed the better start and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 21’ through Ricshya Walker, who got on the end of a cross from Malikae Dayes and redirected into net for the game’s opening goal.

Panama would have a response, though, and the home side pulled level right before halftime in the 44’ when Marta Cox got on the end of a through ball and sent in a cross from the left flank that Jamaica DF Alika Keene headed into her own net to make it 1-1 at the break.

Panama really started to apply the pressure as the second half wore on in search of a go-ahead goal, with Cedeno adding a spark from off the bench and Riley Tanner drawing fouls near the Jamaica area.

Tanner was presented with a gilt-edged opportunity to score in the 80’ when she beat the offside trap and was one-on-one with Jamaica GK Aliyah Morgan, but Morgan came up with the big save.

Panama’s efforts would finally be rewarded though, as Cedeno took advantage of a loose ball in the area after Jamaica failed to clear a corner kick and fired into net in the 84’ to deliver the 2-1 victory to the home side.

 

A makeshift Senior Reggae Girlz squad will have it all to do when they take on Panama in a Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup Qualification fixture on Wednesday.

The players who were responsible for leading Jamaica to a historic Round of 16 appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year are not part of the group in Panama after withdrawing from selection to protest what they describe as “constant mistreatment” from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Things have been made even more difficult for the travelling squad after a late change in venue due to ongoing protests in Panama City.

New Head Coach of the team, Xavier Gilbert, said the protests have also led to some logistical issues for the Girlz, including a lack of training time.

“We’ve been here from Sunday. We were in another city where there was a protest so it affected us. I must give credit to CONCACAF and the local organizing committee for responding the way they did. They tried to get us out the same time we landed on Sunday which is three hours away from the airport so it was difficult. Then yesterday in the morning we couldn’t move because roads were blocked,” he said.

“The good thing is that it didn’t affect any of the players and for that I must commend the local organizing committee once again. Once they picked up the players. They moved them straight to this hotel here so that was good. They didn’t encounter any delays,” he added before noting the challenge of the late venue change and an inability to train.

“It is challenging because now the venue has changed, the training venue has changed and the game venue changed and we’re still uncertain on some logistics as it relates to time,” he said.

“We’re going to have to do something. It’s not ideal in terms of what we want to do and to have everybody who we want involved but a lot of the players, especially when we travel at youth level, we find ourselves in similar situations so some of them are used to this. We only have a one-hour session before our first game and that includes a warm-up so we just have to try and get in and get out. We’re going to have to do a lot of mental and tactical preparation as it relates to how we want to approach the game,” he added.

In an interview on Tuesday, Gilbert said that about 15 members of the squad had already arrived in Panama with a few more coming.

He added that the absence of 18-year-old Shaniel Buckley, who is currently with the Jamaica team at the Pan Am Games in Chile, will be a big loss for the Girlz.

“We have about 15 players here so far. We’re expecting another couple and then we’ll take it from there. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that we’ll have Shaneil Buckley. She’s at the Pan Am Games and she hasn’t left yet so that’s a huge blow for us,” Gilbert said.

With regular skipper Khadija Shaw among those unavailable, Gilbert says midfielder Chinyelu Asher will Captain the team on Wednesday.

“Chinyelu Asher based on her experience playing at the international level and playing at the World Cup. She’s the most experienced and capped player here and it’s fitting for her to be the leader,” Gilbert said.

The 30-year-old Asher has scored six goals in 29 caps for the Reggae Girlz since her debut in 2015.

More information has come to light in the ongoing dispute between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and members of the senior Reggae Girlz.

A number of members of the team announced on Saturday a decision to withdraw from two Women's Gold Cup qualifiers next week due to "constant mistreatment" from their national governing body.

According to a statement shared on social media by members of the squad nicknamed the Reggae Girlz, the team have not received "full and correct" payment for their World Cup performance or bonuses for qualifying for that tournament.

The team also allege they received information about their coaching, medical and equipment staff in an "untimely manner and through unprofessional communication".

Players said they only received confirmation of their head coach three days prior to their report date and through social media despite efforts to have direct communication with the JFF.

The JFF on Monday issued a statement of their own to “clarify the facts” as they put it.

“The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is aware of certain information in the public domain, and would like to clarify the facts. Our stance is always that we do not discuss specifics of any contract with employees, especially as most contracts have a grievance procedure outlined, and the JFF has an obligation to ensure that we are in strict compliance with the procedures laid out in the contract. This is the reason many times behind our reluctance to discuss the issues publicly, and certainly first, as despite the public criticism many times, we have an obligation to observe the contracts terms we have agreed to.”

The statement continues: “We would first like to say that we have always been, and continue to be, grateful to the Girlz and staff from the FIFA Women’s World Cup (FWWC) campaign, who have together done the JFF and country proud in the historic achievements.

We are especially proud of this achievement, as the JFF, as we all know, is a Federation in a country that has its own economic and social challenges, and has had it difficult to ensure that we provide the best showing available, from the inadequate financial resources. Nonetheless, based on the support of our sponsors – FIFA, Adidas, Bob Marley Foundation, Corporate Sponsors, Reggae Girlz Foundation, and the Government of Jamaica – and our determination to support the Senior National Women’s Team (SNWT), we have spent close to US$4M on the campaign to, and during, the FWWC. While this has come at significant financial strain to the JFF, this is something that we would gladly do again, as we recognize the importance of football to social transformation for the people and the country.

The following outlines the position re the allegations being discussed in the public domain, which we believe we should address the surrounding facts. 

The JFF had made a commitment, through our President, at a meeting earlier this year with the SNWT, that once we received the prize money from FIFA, all the debts (dating back from 2022) under the contractual would be liquidated. We have been successful in doing so. We would like to clarify that the only money that was owed to the Reggae Girls, up to last week, is twenty percent of the JFF prize money from the 2023 Women's World Cup. The reason for this amount being outstanding, is that although the contract stated that an amount of twenty percent is to be paid to the players (including those playing in the qualification matches), it did not specify how the amount is to be distributed amongst the players. JFF reached out to the players weeks ago to ask them how the twenty percent should be divided between them, and just last week we suggested a formula, in order to expedite the process. We did not receive a response and so advised that we would start processing along the lines of the formula we had put forward. This was done.

It is important to note that although the total prize money from FIFA was approximately US$1.8 million, of that amount, there is a reimbursement that the JFF is in the process of claiming. The players are insisting on twenty percent of the $1.8 million, and we have advised that we can only pay out the incentive on the amount of $1.2 million received so far. Apart from the inability to afford to pay out funds we have not received, this is also consistent with the contract that says the JFF must pay out based on what is paid to it. Of course, as soon as the reimbursement is received those funds will be immediately disbursed according to the formula we have paid out on. We have been in discussions with FIFA and we hope to in the earliest possible time resolve the final amounts and pay the portion due to the Girlz immediately. This will ensure that we have nothing outstanding, as we have already paid up the per diem amounts for the Olympic Qualifiers recently played.

The players also asked about who would comprise the coaching staff, which was a condition of responding on being available.  The players were advised that the JFF would have a full support staff in place and that Xavier Gilbert was back on board, but not in the Head Coach capacity at that time.  We never considered that it was important to communicate the names of the coaching support staff prior to being advised of availability. This is not a requirement under the contract, which speaks to specific conditions surrounding availability, consistent with the FIFA rules.

It should be noted that the team doctor, the team manager, the team masseur and the equipment manager are also back on board. Contracts were also offered to four other staff members, who advised that they were unavailable for October.  So, the JFF has always sought to retain the support staff, contrary to discussions in the public sphere.

In response to the travel arrangements, we advised that this will be honored in accordance with the contracts that were signed. The contract states the standard travel category is economy but that the JFF reserves the right to determine the travel category based on circumstances. It is important to note that the JFF has always facilitated upgrades given the circumstances and requests from clubs and the coach, as is provided for in the contract, and we have also always at a minimum sought to place players in premium economy.

Given the response and the contractual requirements, The JFF had written to the Girlz individually advising that we are suspending their selection indefinitely, until we work through the grievance procedure outlined in the contract. We will work to ensure that we go through the contractual grievance procedure, so that we can have final resolution re the issues raised. The JFF always wants to resolve any issues with our stakeholders for a win-win solution.

We want to again mention that we are grateful for the contribution that has been made to the national women’s programme, and as is evidenced by the amount it has cost the JFF, and our follow through to pay off all outstanding amounts to the players, this shows the commitment that the JFF has to the programme.

At this time also, we want to call on all Jamaica to support the SNWT as they embark on their two upcoming qualifiers for the inaugural Women Gold Cup tournament in 2024. We wish them the best and want to assure them that we are focused on providing the support they need to give their best effort as they represent their country and bring us pride,” the statement concluded.

Jamaica’s Minister of Gender, Education, Culture and Sport, The Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange, also issued a statement on Monday confirming that she is in communication with both parties trying to help them find a mutually beneficial solution.

“As Minister, I have been careful not to say or do anything that could be seen as political interference in Jamaica’s football programme. However, like any other fan, I have been concerned about the relationship between the Jamaica Football Federation and members of the Reggae Girlz squad,” she said.

“I have been in dialogue with both sides in an attempt to bring them together and will continue to do my utmost to facilitate an amicable resolution in the interest of Jamaica,” she added.

 

Having managed to pull a full 23-member squad out of the hat, interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert is now cautiously optimistic about their chances of springing another surprise in the upcoming Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures against Panama and Guatemala.

Gilbert, who was appointed late Thursday, skipped his first hurdle by securing the services of a fairly youthful squad, which also includes some out-of-favour experienced players for the games scheduled for October 25 and 29 respectively.

However, the second hurdle remains the fact that Gilbert has a short window to try and achieve some semblance of cohesiveness with his new squad, as they are scheduled to arrive in Panama on Monday and will train on Tuesday, with the game scheduled for Wednesday. They will then return to Jamaica on Thursday to host Guatemala on Sunday.

“Yeah, it is tough, and I always knew it will be a difficult task but that’s the thing with these FIFA windows and how we manage ourselves will be important at the end of the day,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“The good thing for us is that we have individuals who understand and know what we have to focus on. So, it is good that we managed to find persons and it is also an opportunity for the younger players to showcase their talent and secure themselves a spot in future camps to come,” he added.

Gilbert’s squad includes a new call up in 32-year-old England-born Melissa Johnson of Charlton Athletic, while Canadian-born Israela Groves, 24, who is also up to earn her first international cap, was a part of the senior Reggae Girlz training camp in Florida earlier this year.

Meanwhile, 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup veterans Marlo Sweatman and Chinyelu Asher highlight the more senior players, along with goalkeeper Chris-Ann Chambers, Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, Alika Keene and twins, Malikae and Mikayla Dayes. The remainder of the team comprises mostly Under-20 representatives now transitioning to the senior level.

The coach’s predicament stems from the fact that all 22 members of the successful 2023 World Cup squad have made themselves unavailable, while Cheyna Matthews has retired.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in a release on Friday, announced the suspension of selection for all 22 players until they meet with the federation's hierarchy to resolve all issues regarding payments among other things.

“It is what it is, I can’t control some of the variables, so I just have to control what I can. At this point in time, we managed to assemble a squad and we must give credit to the ladies who have accepted the offer to represent their country on short notice and we just want to build on that,” Gilbert, who is still without an assistant said.

“We have a lot of players who will be earning their first caps so again, it is an opportunity for them to show the world what they have to offer, and we just hope that they will make full use of it. It is going to be difficult against two tough oppositions, but we are hopeful that we can do what we have to, to ensure we get two positive results,” he noted.

Gilbert pointed to the fact that fitness will not be much of a concern with the selected players as his biggest positive as it will allow him to jump straight into technical and tactical work when they arrive in Panama.

“The good thing is that all the players are currently active with their clubs and colleges, that was of some concern, but these players are coming in with games under their belts which is a positive. So again, we just hope that we can get them together as soon as possible and manage to squeeze out some results,” he ended.

Following the opening fixtures, the 37th-ranked Reggae Girlz will then host Panama on November 29 and close away to Guatemala on December 3.

Squad- Chris-Ann Chambers (Dinamo Sokhumi); Javanae Jones (ultnomah University); Lauren Reid (University of Maryland); Malikae Dayes (AAB (Denmark); Zoe Vidaurre (George Mason University); Nevillegail Able (University of Maine at Fort Kent); Chinyelu Asher (SCU Torreense); Alika Keene (SK Slavia Praha Zeny); Israela Groves (London City Lionesses); Ricshya Walker (LaSalle University); Marlo Sweatman (Viktoria Haladas); Christina Salmon (William Carey University); Davia Richards (Hill College); Mikayla Dayes (Rodez AF (France); Shaneil Buckley (Frazsiers Whip); Natoya Atkinson (Seaward County); Destiny Powell (Frazsiers Whip); Melissa Johnson (Charlton Athletic Women FC); Sydnie Street (Seneca College); Jayda Hylton-Pelaia (Woodbridge Strikers); Alliyah Morgan (George Mason University); Shanhaine Nelson (Cavaliers); Tyiesha Nelson (Reinas Academy)

 

 

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