After months of preparation and anticipation, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz wait to wet their feet at a second-consecutive Fifa Women’s World Cup, is now over.

They kick off their Group F campaign hopeful of getting their first ever point on the board at the global showpiece, but doing so against an experienced France squad that is well versed in the challenges that the World Cup presents, will by no means be easy.

France obviously enters Sunday’s contest scheduled for 5:00 am Jamaica time, at Sydney Football Stadium as strong favourites with Les Bleues currently fifth in the Fifa rankings, while Lorne Donaldson’s Reggae Girlz sit at number 43.

However, Donaldson would readily tell you that rankings mean very little and while they proudly wear the underdog tag, they are not to be taken lightly.

“We have been training for this match for the last few weeks, obviously France is one of the top five teams in the world, they have been to a few World Cups, and I think they are one of the favourites right now. But our preparation has been good throughout, so hopefully we can come out, put up a good fight and show the world what we can do,” Donaldson said in a pre-game press conference.

 “I don’t want to give much away in terms of our tactics, we are going to just come out and adjust to what they are doing and just put up a fight and just figure things out as we go along,” he added.

Though Hervé Renard's French side have picked up six wins from their last eight outings, including wins over Norway, Denmark and Ireland earlier this month, the Reggae Girlz have highlighted their ability to turn up when it matters most.

It is that unpredictability along with the presence of prolific striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw that Donaldson believes will spark some semblance of fear in the opponents.

“I think anytime you get into this (big game) situation there is always pressure. We can say we don’t have nothing to lose, but we still want to play well and make our country proud, and the players feel the same way that they want to get something out of the game. So, I don’t know if France has more pressure than us but there is pressure both ways,” Donaldson opined.

“The French team has a new coach they haven’t played a lot of game under the new coach so we can’t look back at the old France team, some of the players are the same and there are new players and they have played more games than us recently. So, we have to study those games to see how we approach the game. It’s a new enthused and energetic French team, different mentality and different style of play,” he noted.

Though he is yet to confirm his starting team, it is likely that Donaldson and his assistants could lean towards a 4-3-3 formation, which would see Tottenham Hotspurs’ Rebecca Spencer in goal, shadowed by Swaby sisters Chantelle and Allyson in the heart of defence, flanked by Tiernny Wiltshire on the right and Deneisha Blackwood on the left.

Havana Solaun, Drew Spence and Atlanta Primus, could marshal the midfield, while Shaw could possibly be joined by Jody Brown and Cheyna Matthews in the three-pronged attack.

Meanwhile, the England-born Primus, who will be among a number of players making their World Cup debut, pointed out that the team is raring to go.

“We are very much here to play and our primary focus is the game tomorrow against France. I am super excited, we have been working hard to prepare as much as we can for this, so our attention and focus is very much on that,” she said.

“Obviously Bunny is the top striker from last year and she is coming off an incredible season in the WSL, so I think she will enter the tournament with great confidence and for us as a team it is great to have her on our side because it’s a matter of scoring goals to win games so hopefully, she can sparkle,” Primus added.

After France, the Girlz will engage Panama on July 29 and Brazil on August 2.

Tiffany Cameron believed the foundation for her to achieve continued success in a longstanding career, hinged on her making another Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance, backed by a new signing.

So, the fact the Canada-born player was overcome with emotions when news came that she made Jamaica’s final squad to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, followed by a new deal with top flight Spanish club Real Betis, is understandable, as everything fell in place as she had hoped.

For the Reggae Girl striker, turned defender, both accomplishments are a testament of her hard work and unwavering determination to ensure she remains prominent on the international and club scene in a career spanning over 10 years.

“When the (World Cup) roster was released, I had a big smile on my face and I did shed a little tear because it has been quite the journey for me. This is my third World Cup, second with Jamaica and I had one with Canada at the youth level, so it is definitely something to really be proud of,” said Cameron, who was also a part of Jamaica’s historic team at the 2019 global showpiece in France.

Cameron’s sense of satisfaction, particularly where the Reggae Girlz are concerned, comes from the fact that it initially seemed like she would have missed out on the final 23, based on the approach Lorne Donaldson and his assistants took.

In fact, versatility was always expected to be a characteristic held in high regard by the coaching staff in making their selections and Cameron, recognizing that much, paraded her immense potential by assuming a role as a right full back.

It is that show of versatility that propelled her above others.

Prior to the Cup of Nations tournament, the 31-year-old did not get many minutes, until she accepted the fact that she would not make the squad as an attacker.

Despite logging over 14 goals and more than 10 assists in over 15 games for her previous club FC Gyor in the Hungarian top-flight league, Cameron, who could be considered an important leader in the Reggae Girlz group, embraced change and made the right full back position her comfort zone.

"I’m glad I defeated the odds. It just proves what I’m willing to do to represent Jamaica. I’ll play anywhere needed. Yes, I love to score goals and play forward, but it’s not all about that,” Cameron declared.

“I think I have really worked hard this year and I have proven that I am a versatile player wherever the national team needs me, I am able to play, and I think that is super important going into the World Cup that we have players that are okay with possibly playing in different positions that is being asked of them,” she added.

That said, Cameron, whose career has taken her to club in various parts of Europe and elsewhere around the world, expressed intentions to continue working extremely hard at improving her craft, as she looks forward to playing a key role in Real Betis’s charge when the Liga F gets under way.

“I’m really looking forward to my new adventure with Real Betis. I love the Spanish football culture as it is predominantly possession based. It’s similar to the style of football in Germany, where I’ve played for two and a half seasons in the top division, so this style of football won’t be foreign to me,” Cameron shared.

She continued: “I enjoy combinational play and possession-based football. I think my best qualities are my speed, my fitness, my versatility, my movement off the ball and my ability to combine with the players around me and create goal scoring opportunities for myself and others.

“I believe that no matter a player’s age they can always improve in all aspects of the game. This will be a good challenge for me and like I’ve proven with Jamaica, I respond well when I’m challenged and is expected to prove why I belong in an environment. I’ve worked hard for everything that I’ve achieved thus far and I’m truly grateful that my efforts have been acknowledged.”

But for now, Cameron’s attention is fully focused on the Reggae Girlz objective which to get out of Group F at the World Cup. They are scheduled to open against fifth-ranked France on Sunday, before engaging Panama on July 29 and Brazil on August 2.

“I think its super important the team bonding off the field, I think we utilized our time well in the respective camps and we are ready and raring to go. The shout outs from Sean Paul, DJ Khalid and others, will also certainly help to fuel us,” the multi-talented player, who also dabbles in music, ended.


Jamaica’s assistant coach Xavier Gilbert is not denying that France will pose a challenge for his Reggae Girlz outfit to start their Fifa Women’s World Cup campaign. But he is hopeful that they will be able to overcome the daunting task and secure their first ever point at the global showpiece.

Gilbert’s cautious optimism came, as he was heartened by the Girlz lively training session, which he believes is a good indicator of the team’s mental and physical readiness ahead of Sunday’s opening Group F fixture against the fifth-ranked French team.

Well aware that France will be no pushovers, Gilbert, an assistant to Head coach Lorne Donaldson, is backing the 43rd-ranked Girlz to give their more illustrious opponents a run for their money when they take the field at the Sydney Football Stadium.  

“We have been analyzing the French team from before they got here and their (0-1) loss to Australia kind of confirmed some of the things that we already knew. They really don’t change their style of play; they kept pressing and the Australian faced them front on. But that was a part of their preparation, so we still have to be mindful of how they attack and how they defend, and we just have to execute our game plan,” Gilbert said.

“Nothing is wrong with dreaming, but I honestly think we really have a good chance of getting something from the game, especially if we play smart and contain them, it will get easier for us. We do have quality players who can match up against them, there is no doubt about that.

 “Psychologically our top striker [Khadija “Bunny” Shaw] is raring to go and they know that she can be a handful, so their efforts to contain her, might leave an opening for others in the attacking front to capitalise and those are some of things we want to exploit,” he added.

With two good sessions now under their belts, including a competitive squad match at the Victoria State Training Centre on Thursday, Gilbert explained that the focus now is to iron out a few finer tactical details to ensure an efficient execution against, France, in particular.

 “The Girlz were buzzing from the other day, and it showed in this session which is a good indication that they are ready and raring to go. The session was pretty much how we can exploit some weak areas in the French tactics and also how to curtail some of their strengths based on how we defend, especially in the wide areas.

“We know they are going to counter press a lot and then try and force us through the middle and they also play a lot in transition. So, this session was pretty much to look at countering some of the things that they have been doing over the last few games and how we anticipate they are going to attack us,” the tactician shared.

He pointed out that the Reggae Girlz 1-0 win over Morocco in their first and only warm-up encounter, also provided good insight where gauging the team was concerned.

“We did our analysis and showed them some clips of the things that we did well because part of that game was to fix some of the things that we want to do against the French team. We did some of that, and even the goal, was as a result of what we did before in terms of our attacking thrust. So, there were a lot of positives that came from that game in terms of how we want to operate going forward,” Gilbert noted.

Finally, Gilbert revealed that all concerns regarding Jody Brown’s knock which she picked up in the Morocco friendly, have been allayed, as the diminutive winger was fully integrated into the team’s session and brought up to speed on tactics.

“She is good, it is just about managing and ensuring that we have a full team, and everybody is available for selection ahead of our first game. But she will be fine, the nature of the injury is nothing to be alarmed about,” Gilbert declared.

After their contest with France, the Girlz will do battle against Panama on July 29 at Perth Rectangular Stadium and then close the group stages against Brazil at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, on August 2.

Jamaica Team Guide

July 19, 2023

Jamaica's Reggae Girlz takes the spotlight in our Fifa Women's World Cup build-up feature today. The Jamaicans will be making a second-consecutive appearance at the global showpiece set to get under way on July 20 and end August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.


They are no longer the only Caribbean team to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, but Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz will be the first from the region to make a second-consecutive appearance at the finals. Ranked No 43 in the world, they are a much more formidable group than that of 2019 and the squad features several US- and England-born players with Jamaican heritage that were not a part of the team which made a historic appearance in France.

The squad is similar to the one that competed in the qualifiers, winning all but two games – a 5-0 group stage loss to the United States and a 3-0 semi-final loss to Canada – at the Concacaf Women’s Championship in Mexico. During that tournament, Jamaica registered a 1-0 win over the host nation and also bettered Haiti 4-0 and Costa Rica 1-0 on their way to a third-place finish.

In total, the Jamaicans scored 30 goals and conceded 10 between the first phase of qualifying and the Concacaf championship and were again led by the talismanic striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, who ended the qualifiers with 12 goals.

Since then, the head coach Lorne Donaldson has brought in a few young prospects in 19-year-old goalkeeper Liya Brooks, 18-year-old Solai Washington, 19-year-old Kameron Simmonds and 22-year-old Peyton McNamara, all of whom impressed in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Jamaica have always banked on their speed and athleticism to open up opposing defences, particularly from the wide areas and it will certainly be more of the same in Australia and New Zealand, especially with the addition of fleet-footed players Washington, Simmonds and Kalyssa van Zanten, who can be lethal from the bench.

Still, Shaw, as always, will be the focal point in the attack and, much like she did at the 2019 showpiece when she assisted Havana Solaun to score a historic first goal against Australia, she could make a difference against their more illustrious Group F opponents if is she is able to get on the ball close enough to goal.

The defence has not always been the team’s strong point and while Donaldson and his assistants have done their best to beef up the backline, it basically remains the same as that of 2019, with the exception of Tottenham goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer and right-back Tiernny Wiltshire. Strong performances can be expected from the former captain Konya Plummer, who recently returned from maternity leave, but is looking raring to go. Much is also expected of her fellow defender Allyson Swaby, who is strong in the air and resolute on the ground.

Without doubt Jamaica remain one of the biggest underdogs at the World Cup, but they are certainly not going to the tournament accepting defeat, especially with the 2019 experience now under their belts.

The coach

Lorne Donaldson was born and raised in Jamaica where he started his playing career at Kingston College and Cavalier FC, before moving to the United States where he entered Metropolitan State University of Denver (he was inducted into MSU Denver’s Hall of Fame in 1995). He went on to play for the Denver Kickers, where he won the 1983 National Amateur Cup, and Jamaica.

He later started his coaching career as an assistant at Metro State Roadrunners in 1983 and has not looked back since, managing Colorado Foxes, Colorado Rapids and Real Colorado Foxes, along the way. 

Donaldson was introduced to the national women’s programme on the recommendation of ambassador for Jamaican women’s football Cedella Marley in 2014, along with previous head coach Hue Menzies and the two guided the Reggae Girlz to their historic qualification in 2019.

Both later left the programme for various reasons that involved the Jamaica Football Federation, but Donaldson expressed a willingness to return provided the conditions were different.

In July last year, he replaced Vinimore “Vin” Blaine at the helm, a few weeks ahead of the crucial Concacaf Championship, after the players released a letter expressing dissatisfaction with Blaine’s leadership.

Star player

The Guardian’s first female Footballer of the Year in 2018, the first player from the Caribbean to win the Concacaf Player of the Year Award in 2022, and Jamaica’s all-time leading scorer with 56 goals, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw’s career is one of bumps, bruises and of course, tremendous success.

The 6ft striker’s physicality and speed of thought had set her up for a dazzling career from a young age – aged 14 she played for Jamaica’s under-15, under-17 and under-20 teams. She made her debut for the senior side on 23 August 2015, scoring once in a 6-0 win over the Dominican Republic. She has lost siblings to violence and accidents but used those tragedies to fuel her passion for football.

During the 2019 World Cup in France, Shaw signed a two-year contract with FC Bordeaux and ended her second league season with 22 goals and seven assists in 20 matches, winning the top goalscorer award. She then joined Manchester City where the now 26-year-old continues to show her class, scoring 31 goals in 30 games last season and being named the club's player of the year.

Rising star

At 18 years old, the US-born midfielder Solai Washington is the youngest member of the squad and is one of the up-and-coming players to look out for at the World Cup. Still in high school going into her senior year, Washington first joined the setup at a camp in Florida this year and hasn’t looked back. She possesses great ability and works hard on and off the ball in a manner that belies her age.

Did you know?

Thirteen of Jamaica’s 23-member squad will be making their first World Cup appearances. That number includes the five England-born players – Rebecca Spencer, Vyan Sampson, Atlanta Primus, Drew Spence and Paige Bailey-Gayle. Also of note is that Cheyna Matthews, like she did in 2019, has returned shortly after giving birth to make the World Cup squad.

Standing of women’s football in Jamaica

Women’s football in Jamaica came to life in 1991 when the Reggae Girlz played their first international match against Haiti, losing 1-0. Since then, they have become one of the top teams in the region, and currently boast their second highest ever Fifa ranking at 43. They achieved their highest ever ranking at 42 last year.

There have been bumps on the road, however, and in 2010 the women’s programme as well as the women’s Olympic programme were disbanded by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). At that point, they were at their lowest ranking of 128 but the country was later removed from Fifa’s world rankings after three years of inactivity.

The programme was restarted in 2014 with the support of Cedella Marley, the daughter of the late Bob Marley. Marley’s robust fundraising efforts eventually helped the Reggae Girlz achieve their historic World Cup qualification.

Realistic goal at the World Cup

While it seems a daunting task for Jamaica to get out of Group F and into the last 16, they are expected to prove more competitive than they did in 2019 and the collective goal is to at least take points off one of France or Brazil. If they can do that, confidence is high that they will get the better of Panama in their final group game. So, the realistic aim for the team known for its stubborn determination and passion is to prove their doubters wrong by getting beyond the group stage.


Jamaica's Reggae Girlz takes the spotlight in our Fifa Women's World Cup build-up feature today. The Jamaicans will be making a second-consecutive appearance at the global showpiece set to get under way on July 20 and end August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.


Name: Rebecca Spencer

Date of Birth: 22 February 1991

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Tottenham Hotspur

Profile: Born in England, Spencer had a nomadic start to her career before settling at her current employers, Tottenham Hotspur. Capped by England at Under-19 and Under-20 levels, she also received a call-up to the senior England squad in 2016 but was an unused substitute against Estonia. She qualified for Jamaica through her father and made her debut in June 2021, wasting little time in establishing herself as the Reggae Girlz No 1. She was instrumental in Jamaica’s second-consecutive World Cup qualification, showing off her goalkeeping skills with much gusto, particularly at the Concacaf Women’s Championship in Mexico. Now set to make her first World Cup appearance, Spencer has no qualms in admitting that she is at a ripe age in her career, which is why she is intent on making the most of this opportunity. "I want to have the best competition of my life,” she says. “I'm 32, so I'm not getting any younger. But you know, nothing really phases me in any situation. I have a lot of experience playing in England, so I hope I can bring that to the World Cup.”

Name: Sydney Schneider

Date of Birth: 31 August 1999

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Sparta Prague

Profile: Born in the United States in a multicultural family, Schneider could have represented her home country or Germany, the birthplace of her biological father. Instead, she opted to represent her maternal grandparents’ homeland, Jamaica. After impressing as a youth player, Schneider became first choice at senior level and pulled off some key saves on the way to their historic World Cup qualification in 2019. At that World tournament in France, Schneider, standing close to 1.82m tall aged 19, was again prominent and pulled off a stunning penalty save in their opening game against Brazil, though they inevitably lost 3-0. Now older and wiser, Schneider is ready to perform at her second World Cup but it is unlikely that she will be first choice with Spencer now in the squad.

Name: Liya Brooks

Date of Birth: 17 May 2005

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Washington State University

At only 18, Liya Brooks caught the attention of Lorne Donaldson and his assistants during the tour of South Korea in September last year. The US-born player, who earned her Jamaica stripes through her mother, showed incredible ability at the Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments and it was little surprise that she quickly made the step up to the senior squad. Brooks is aware that she is merely the understudy to Spencer and Schneider and, as such, is aiming to learn as much as she can from her first World Cup. “Becky and Syd are amazing players, they inspire and push me to be better, so I just want what is best for the team,” she says. “Yes, I will fight for a spot in the starting team, but if that doesn’t happen then that is OK – I just want to make the most of the experience,” she told


Name: Allyson Swaby

Date of Birth: 3 October 1996

Position: Central defence

Club: Angel City FC

Born in Connecticut to Jamaican parents, she has been a rock in defence since making her debut in 2018. Instrumental in the team’s qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France where she shared the pitch with her sister Chantelle. Swaby shows a preference for direct, vertical football, getting the ball forwards quickly. She is a skilled defender in aerial duels and can often be tasked with man-marking by her team, owing to her athleticism and strength. It is those attributes that have earned her a move to Roma, where she played for three seasons, helping the club to their first major title when they beat Milan in the Coppa Italia final. She then returned to the US to represent Angel City FC, but was loaned out to Paris St-Germain for six months. Expect her experience to be on display in Australia and New Zealand.

Name: Chantelle Swaby

Date of Birth: 6 August 1998

Position: Central defence

Club: FC Fleury 91

Like her sister, Allyson, Chantelle came into the Jamaica setup in 2018 and has been a prominent figure for the Reggae Girlz since then. She initially joined as a midfielder but her versatility has allowed her to shine in other positions, particularly defence. In fact, it was at the 2019 World Cup in France that her true potential came to the fore when she was asked to play a holding midfield role and did so to great acclaim. Since then, she has been utilised as a centre-back, right-back and left-back. Chantelle, who currently plays in France for FC Fleury 91, after stints with Sky Blue FC and Rangers – where she scored four goals in seven appearances – will be a reliable asset for Jamaica in her second World Cup with her older sister by her side.

Name: Konya Plummer

Date of Birth: 2 August 1997

Club: Unattached

Position: Centre-back

Born and raised in St Mary, Jamaica, before she went overseas for university, Plummer represented her nation at all levels – Under-15, Under-17, Under-20 and now the senior team, which she has captained on numerous occasions, including at the 2019 World Cup. She played every minute of that tournament and even produced a few stunning solo runs. Apart from her aggression, Plummer’s speed is also a key asset, which is why the head coach, Lorne Donaldson, was sweating about her fitness on return from maternity leave. A lot of emphasis was placed on Plummer’s readiness, as she only resumed training late last year after giving birth to her son. “I think it is important for young girls and people around the world, but most importantly Jamaica, to see that you can have a family and still come back and play,” she says. Through hard work and stubborn determination, she erased all doubts about her fitness and hit competitive mode at the right time to return in defence.

Name: Vyan Sampson

Date of Birth: 2 July 1996

Position: Central defence/midfield

Club: Hearts

Born in London but with Jamaican heritage, she played as a youth at Charlton and Arsenal and later represented England at Under-17 and Under-19 levels. She continued her senior career at Arsenal, West Ham and London City Lionesses, before joining up with Jamaica following their World Cup qualification in 2019. Since then, Sampson, a calming influence at the back and as a holding midfielder, has made Scotland her home, where she plays for Hearts. Now in a happy place for both club and country, she can’t wait to make her World Cup debut. “This is probably the first time in my career that both club and country have matched up so well and taken care of me rather than just seeing me as a commodity,” she says. “I feel fully supported. We [Jamaica] are a small nation, but we don't fear anyone.”

Name: Tiernny Wiltshire

Date of Birth: 8 May 1998

Position: Right-back

Club: Unattached

Another player who can hold down multiple positions if required to do so. This US-born player initially joined the Reggae Girlz as an attacker in 2019 for the Olympic qualifiers and has played for Maccabi Emek Hefer in Israel, Finland’s Kuopio Palloseura and Houston Dash, as a forward. With Jamaica, however, she has excelled as a right-back and has made it her comfort zone heading into her first World Cup.

Name: Tiffany Cameron

Date of Birth: 16 October 1991

Position: Right-back

Club: Real Betis

One the most experienced players in the squad, the Canadian-born defender has represented clubs in her home country, the United States, Israel, Germany, Sweden and now Hungary. Cameron is a natural leader and despite being an attacker for most of her career, she embraced change and showed her versatility when it mattered most to secure her spot as a full-back in the World Cup squad. Cameron has enjoyed a fine season at FC Gyor, scoring 14 goals and making 10 assists. She dabbles in the music industry and has already released a few singles, including the Reggae Girlz’ official anthem at the 2019 World Cup. “'Our Time is Now' in France was so fun," she told "I had such a good time doing that, and my teammates loved it – a couple of them even got a bit teary-eyed. It all started when I was in school. I would write some rhymes back then and, believe me, they were terrible! I loved Missy Elliott, 50 Cent, Eminem, but Missy especially – the swagger she has is amazing.”

Name: Deneisha Blackwood

Date of Birth: 7 March 1997

Position: Left-back

Club: GPSO 92 Issy

A homegrown player who left Jamaica for university and has since blossomed on the international stage. Blackwood has been a feature in the senior team since her debut in 2018. She may be short in stature but what she lacks in height, Blackwood more than makes up for with her skills and determination. Quick, slippery and a hard worker with heart, she gives her all for the team. “I just want to support my teammates whether I'm on or off the field,” she says. “That has always been my biggest thing being a part of this Reggae Girlz setup, the way we play with and for each other – that is the most important thing."

Name: Sashana Campbell (Alternate player)

Date of Birth: 2 March 1991

Position: Left-back

Club: Medyk Konin

Nicknamed “Pete”, Campbell picked up an injury at the Concacaf Women's Championship in Mexico but reported fit and healthy for the recent camp and made the cut as an emergency alternative to play anywhere in defence if needed. A homegrown player with quality and experience that the head coach, Lorne Donaldson, really values. "She is a very versatile player, who can give us quality in any position between defence and attack,” he says. 


Name: Peyton McNamara

Date of Birth: 22 February 2002

Position: Holding midfielder

Club: Ohio State

A US-born player, who first represented Jamaica at the Under-20 level and later transitioned to the senior setup, where she commanded the coaching staff’s attention in the buildup to the World Cup. She is among Concacaf’s budding young talents and the next generation of players expected to lead Jamaica’s charge, so the debut experience on the world stage will do her well. 

Name: Havana Solaun

Date of Birth: 23 February 1993

Position: Central midfield

Club: Houston Dash

Born in Hong Kong to an Afro-Cuban father and a Jamaican mother, Solaun was originally eligible to play for the national teams of Hong Kong, the United States, Cuba or Jamaica. Though she represented the US at Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 levels Solaun stuck with Jamaica after making her debut against Chile in 2019 and secured a spot in the squad for France 2019, where she scored Jamaica's first-ever goal in a Women's World Cup after coming on as a second-half substitute against Australia. A nippy attacker who loves to dribble, Solaun’s career has taken her around the world – she has played for clubs in the US, Norway, France and Cyprus and recently signed a two-year contract with Houston Dash. Fun fact: her first name is a tribute to her paternal grandparents’ birthplace and football was at one point her second choice. She was a talented tennis player and considered that as her preferred career before switching back to football.

Name: Drew Spence

Date of Birth: 23 October 1992

Position: Central midfield

Club: Tottenham Hotspur

Profile: Born in London, Spence is one of Jamaica’s most decorated players at club level. She was Chelsea’s longest-serving player, scoring 50 goals in 238 appearances between 2008 and 2022, a glittering period in which she won five WSL titles and four Women’s FA Cups before switching to Tottenham. Spence had a brief stint with England in 2015 but switched allegiance to Jamaica in 2021 and was instrumental in qualification for the World Cup. She is another player who is willing to adapt in whatever position Lorne Donaldson requires of her, but her knowledge, passion, vision and the fact that she is a calming influence makes her perfectly suited to midfield. “I’m very composed on the ball and I can break up play in midfield,” she told “I can score a few goals as well!” 

Name: Atlanta Primus

Date of Birth: 21 April 1997

Position: Attacking midfielder

Club: London City Lionesses

Another player born in England who was integral in the qualification process. Primus, the daughter of former Reading and Portsmouth player Linvoy Primus, represented England at youth level before making her Jamaica debut in a friendly against Costa Rica in December 2021. She is a strong and fast midfielder, who is comfortable in possession and doesn’t mind showing her skills in one-on-one situations. “A big motivation for me is my family,” she says. “They support me and have sacrificed a lot – I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Name: Solai Washington

Date of Birth: 1 July 2005

Position: Central midfield

Club: Concorde Fire/Chamblee High

At 17, the US-born midfielder is the youngest member of the squad and is certainly one of the up-and-coming players to look out for at the World Cup. Still in high school going into her senior year, Washington first joined the setup at a camp in Florida earlier this year and hasn’t looked back since. She possesses great ability and works hard on and off the ball in a manner that belies her age. Heading to a first World Cup for her is a mixed bag of emotions as her older sister, Giselle, who was also a part of the pool for selection, was left out of the final 23. "My sister is disappointed because she loves Jamaica and the Reggae Girlz,” she says. “But she is also extremely excited for me and has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my journey.

Name: Trudi Carter

Date of Birth: 18 November 1994

Position: Attacking midfielder

Club: Unattached

Born and raised in the tough Southern St Andrew neighbourhood of Arnett Gardens in Kingston, Carter knew her talent could change her family's fortunes. “Sometimes my grandmother was sleeping and [gun] shots were flying through the window," she said in an interview when she was first called up to the Jamaica squad. "That was my motivation to take my family out of this community and football was the avenue to do that.” She represented Jamaica at Under-17 and Under-20 levels, before heading to the United States for university where her focus was firmly set on gaining a professional contract. Her nippy footwork and confidence on the ball drew the attention of Roma, where she spent one season before injuries derailed her progress. She fought long and hard to regain some semblance of form for the 2019 World Cup in France, but never really performed to her true potential until 2021. That was when she joined FC Gintra in Lithuania, scoring 17 goals in 16 appearances and she brought that form into the qualifiers where she scored five goals to help secure World Cup qualification. 


Name: Khadija Shaw

Date of Birth: 31 January 1997

Position: Centre-forward

Club: Manchester City

Jamaica’s most outstanding homegrown player, Shaw’s entire career has not only been dedicated to raising the bar where personal goals are concerned, but also about helping others achieve their goals. In 2018, when she was named The Guardian's Footballer of the Year, Shaw vowed to do everything in her power — both on and off the field — to inspire others, and to date she has done so with alacrity. Shaw's story is one of inspiration and her successes are a testament to her strong character. She lost four brothers – three to Jamaica's high rate of crime and violence and another to a vehicular accident – yet she has been a model of resilience and exemplary conduct throughout her glittering career. “I know they’re watching over me,” she told the Guardian. “When I accomplish something I’m always happy, but I’m thinking I wanted them to see this.”. Shaw is making waves at both club and national level. She recently won the Concacaf Women’s Player of the Year award and was named WSL Player of the Month twice last season. Her versatility is a game-changer. She can wreak havoc on the wing or dominate as a forward. She has already cemented her name in the record books as Jamaica's all-time leading goalscorer across both men's and women's football with 55 goals at time of publication. 

Name: Jody Brown

Date of Birth: 16 April 2022

Position: Winger

Club: Florida State University

After Shaw, Brown is the next most prolific homegrown player. She represented Jamaica at every level and made her senior team debut in 2018 at just 16. That same year she emerged as a prominent figure in the senior team and won the best young player award at the Concacaf Women’s championships, scoring four goals on the way to World Cup qualification in 2019. She is, undoubtedly, an influential forward, who, at 21, has a lot more scope for growth and improvement which is what makes her such a dangerous prospect. Brown is shy by nature but when she is on the ball, her true personality shines through. She is fast, confident and difficult to catch, especially in one-on-one situations, from which most of her 12 senior goals in 18 appearances, have come. She backs herself as the Reggae Girlz’ best dancer. “[If there was a dance-off] I would be the winner,” she says. 

Name: Paige Bailey-Gayle

Date of Birth: 12 November 2001

Position: Winger

Club: Crystal Palace

Another London-born player who featured for England at the youth level before joining Jamaica’s senior setup. A skillful forward who joined Crystal Palace in 2022, Bailey-Gayle is set to become the club's first-ever female player to feature at a Women’s World Cup. The initial switch to Jamaica required a lot of thought, she said, but now she is relishing every moment of it. “It is a massive honour for me and my family … I feel it was the right decision,” she says. “Qualifying for the Women’s World Cup is another massive honour. I never thought I’d become a full international, and now I am, it's the greatest feeling in the world.” She has already earned seven caps at the time of writing and is consistently putting in the work to score her first goal for Jamaica. 

Name: Kameron Simmonds

Date of Birth: 12 June 2003

Position: Centre-forward

Club: University of Tennessee

The third person in her family to represent Jamaica, following in the footsteps of her father, Gregory, and grandfather, Patrick. The US-born forward was first invited to the senior team in September 2022 before the friendly against South Korea and has since become a staple in the team. Simmonds scored her first international goal against Czech Republic at the 2023 Cup of Nations tournament in Australia. Interestingly, Simmonds’ international career almost didn’t happen. She was a gymnast until she fractured an elbow at the age of 11. She switched to football the next year and started training with her father, a former striker who played professionally for over a decade and still holds the record for goals scored at Howard University. “The love that we have for the game and each other, it's just so amazing that I get to continue that legacy within the family,” she says. “It’s something we can bond over and talk about. It's just an incredible honour.”

Name: Cheyna Matthews

Date of Birth: 10 November 1993

Position: Centre-forward

Club: Chicago Red Stars

This will be the second World Cup for the US-born striker, who received her first call-up just months after she had given birth to her first son, Josiah, in 2019. Matthews, who is married to NFL tight end, Jordan, has had a similar path to selection for this World Cup – having recently returned to action after giving birth to her third son – and again impressed the coaching staff to secure her place in the squad. A prolific goalscorer, who started her career with Washington Spirit and then Racing Louisville, Matthews often shares the main striker’s role with Shaw and the two even combined during a 2-0 friendly win against Sheffield United recently, with Matthews scoring from her teammate’s cross. Despite strong competition for positions in the first team, Matthews’ quality is such that she is expected to play a significant role in Jamaica’s three group games.

Name: Kalyssa Van Zanten

Date of Birth: 25 August 2001

Position: Winger

Club: University of Notre Dame

Born in the United States to a father of Dutch descent and a Jamaican mother, Van Zanten is another precocious youngster who represents the next generation of Reggae Girlz. She played for the US at youth level but made her Jamaica senior team debut during last year’s World Cup qualifiers, where she figured prominently and impressed with her skill and quality on the ball.

A pacy forward, who plays on the right wing, Van Zanten scored the solitary goal in Jamaica’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica in their third-place game at the Concacaf Women’s Championships in Mexico. “I told her before she went on that she had a goal in her,” said head coach Lorne Donaldson. “If these [young] players have confidence, they will produce.” Much is expected of her.

Name: Kayla McKenna

Date of Birth: 3 September 1996

Position: Centre-forward

Club: Villarreal CF

The granddaughter of former Jamaican politician Pearnel Charles, McKenna, formerly known as McCoy before marriage, made her debut for Jamaica in 2019 and successfully made the France World Cup squad. However, she picked up a knee injury shortly after and was later replaced by Mireya Grey. McKenna has had tremendous success with Rangers since signing in 2021. She has scored 11 goals in 21 appearances at the time of writing and when fully fit, she will be a force to reckon with in Jamaica’s team. McKenna has also showed versatility, as she was asked to play a holding midfield role by previous coach Vin Blaine during the qualifiers, and she did so to good effect. The head coach Lorne Donaldson clearly knows her worth: “She is one of those players who brings value to the attack as a point player so we know she will do well."

The general belief in Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz camp is that they can progress beyond the group stages on this, their second-consecutive Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance.

In fact, Head coach Lorne Donaldson would readily declare that the possibility of his Reggae Girlz achieving the feat is by no means impossible. Still, he is under no illusion that defeating or merely taking points off the new-look, young and formidable Brazil outfit, as well as the well-organised and experienced France team, will be easy.

While their just-concluded camp in Amsterdam inspires confidence, as it assisted in fine-tuning certain technical and tactical aspects, Donaldson admits that the team is still not yet where he wants them to be with the July 20 to August 20 global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand, now nine days away.

“The camp was good; I wish we had a game which would have been the true test, but it was good, nonetheless. The players worked hard, and they seem very focused, but we're not there yet.

“We still have a few more days to go, so we start working on some of the tactical stuff and I the players are going in with a sense of purpose because they know what's at stake,” Donaldson told shortly after arriving in Australia on Monday.

Since the start of their build up to the World Cup, Donaldson has stressed the importance of holding a tight defensive line, being very well organised and more effective when in possession, if they want to be competitive.

The 43rd-ranked Reggae Girlz will open Group F play on July 23 against the number five-ranked Les Bleues, which is now the centre of their focus.

“I think France is playing a game (against Australia on Friday), so we might get a look at what their starting squad is like and just see exactly how we want to approach the game and how we want to match up against them and just go from there. If we want to be competitive, we will need to defend, and be very well organised and when we have possession, we would like to be more effective,” Donaldson shared.

“So, we still have some tactical stuff to look at and work on. I think our players know that they have to show up and be ready to perform so that makes life a little bit easier sometimes, but yes, we have to hold them accountable for certain things especially tactical mistakes,” he added.

After France, the Girlz will then tackle 52nd-ranked Panama on July 29, before closing against 8th-ranked Brazil on August 2.

However, before all of that, they will engage on final preparation game against Morocco which Donaldson believes will serve them well to lock in their plan towards efficient execution Down Under.

“We will use that game to try some things, we will give as much players as possible some minutes because the aim is to improve the work that we're doing, and we saw some stuff that we need to clean up. So, we will use this game to do that and then look at some tape with the players to see how much more we can brush up on our execution,” the coach noted.

That said, Donaldson, who was an assistant to Hue Menzies when the Girlz were hammered 0-3, 0-5 and 1-4 by Brazil, Italy and Australia on their World Cup debut in France in 2019, said they have no intentions of going out in that manner on this occasion.

“We expect to do well and get something out of the tournament,” he declared.

“We are not going to come here to the World Cup to lay down, we are going to push to get some success. We are planning to get out of the group, whichever way we have to get it done, we intend to get it done. So, it's just a matter of how well we execute when it comes to the big day,” Donaldson ended.

At 17 years old, Reggae Girl Solai Washington will be one of the youngest players at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand later this month, a feat well worth celebrating.

But in the midst of her excitement is a hint of disappointment, as Washington's older and more experienced sister Giselle, did not make the cut in Lorne Donaldson's final 23-player squad.

Such is the bond between the American-born siblings, who earn their Jamaican stripes through their mother, that young Washington readily admits it is the continued guidance and encouragement from her sister, that has propelled her to smile in the face of adversities and push past mental blocks that may deter her from playing the game she fell in love with at the tender age of three.

The elder Washington, who was instrumental in Jamaica's historic qualification to the global showpiece in France in 2019, also missed that tournament due to injury.

"My sister is disappointed because she loves Jamaica and the Reggae Girlz, but she is also extremely excited for me and has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my soccer journey. She is very proud of me and will be cheering me on while I am in Australia. I could not have done it without her and even though she won’t be on the field with me her presence is always there,” Washington told from her base in the United States.

"I started playing soccer [football] mainly because I was inspired from watching and playing soccer with Giselle. I cannot say enough about how awesome it has been to follow the example that she has provided, not just in soccer but also life. She is such an amazing player and person, the perfect role model.

"I've learnt so many lessons from her that they are too many to list, but from a young age she helped me improve technically on the ball and to understand the strategic concepts of the game. But I would have to say the biggest lesson she taught me is to work hard and never quit," she continued.

Washington earned her senior Reggae Girlz debut at the Cup of Nations tournament in Australia earlier this year, not merely for the sake of a trial but because she possesses great ability and gives high-quality effort — both on and off the ball — that bely her age and inexperience.

It is that demonstration that she was ready for a step up from youth football that impressed Donaldson and his assistants Xavier Gilbert, Ak Lakhani and Laura Thomas, and they duly obliged.

Since the Cup of Nations outing in Australia, where she rubbed shoulders with some of the women's game top players from the host nation, as well as Spain and the Czech Republic, Washington confidence and stock increased rapidly to the point where she is now motivated to become a potent performer in the Reggae Girlz setup, as her appetite for success is clear for all to see.

"To be honest the feeling is still indescribable. I am both proud of myself and remain hungry and eager to continue to get better and show the world what I know I can do on its biggest stage," she declared.

"Initially it was intimidating coming into such a close knit and professional team and this has all been a very new experience to me so it was a bit difficult at times, but it also inspired me to work even harder to become the best footballer I can be. But since I've settled in, it has been nothing but a joy and an honour to share the field with such talented players," Washington noted.

Aside from mouth-watering talent, Washington still in high school at Chamblee, has an unflinching desire to make her mark at the July 20 to August 20 World Cup, where the Reggae Girlz will contest Group F alongside France, Brazil and Panama. 

Given her speed, fearlessness and dribbling which makes her a dangerous impact player and a thrilling prospect for the Reggae Girlz, the World Cup represents Washington's moment and time to shine, and if she gets the opportunity to do so, many will remember her name.

"This is huge for me and my career, this is what you dream of when you get involved in the game, playing with and against some of the best players in the biggest games on the biggest stage, so I'm really happy," the bubbly attacker shared.

"I will be heading into my senior year of high school after this summer, so I am still very young and basically just getting started. So, I am excited for my future and what is to come because there is some way to go before I hit the tip of the iceberg where accomplishments are concerned so I am always staying hungry and, more importantly, humble," she said.

Having already assisted Chamblee High School to a State Championship, becoming the first DeKalb County School District girls football team to achieve the feat, Washington was also named Georgia High School Soccer Player of the Year for her 42 goals complemented by nine assists.

She was also instrumental in guiding her Concorde Fire team to the ECNL Under-19 National Championship last year, a title which she is currently hoping they will retain.

This tournament, the tall but nippy player believes will assist in maintaining her match fitness and, by extension, improve her craft before the big dance.

"I have had to make a quick turn around since the Jamaica camp and am now in San Diego for ECNL Nationals. I am playing games with my club team and competing for another National Championship, hoping to get it back-to-back. For sure, this will help with both my physical and mental preparation leading up to the World Cup," Washington ended.

Every FIFA Women's World Cup sees young players come to the fore and explode into popular consciousness and Jamaica’s rising goalkeeper Liya Brooks is hoping that next month's showpiece in Australia and New Zealand will present with her moment of glory.

It may seem far-fetched given the fact that she has more experienced counterparts Rebecca Spencer and Sydney Schneider to contend with, but much like Schneider rose to prominence during the Girlz World Cup debut in France 2019, the American-born Brooks knows it is by no means impossible.

In France, Schneider, then a 19-year-old rookie, pulled off a stunning penalty save in the Reggae Girlz opening game against Brazil, though they inevitably lost 0-3.

Brooks, 18, is yearning for a big break like that when the Girlz do battle in Group F against France, Brazil and Panama at the July 20 to August 20 World Cup, but until then, she is focused on putting in the necessary work to continue impressing Head coach Lorne Donaldson and his assistants.

"Of course, there’s a competition, and I'll certainly fight for that spot in the starting team which would mean a whole lot to me at this point in my career, but I just want what is best for the team. So even if I wasn’t the one, then that’s ok," Brooks told from her base in the United States. 

"I just have to put in the work. Plain and simple and I’ll do that without hesitancy, especially going to college now, I know that will no doubt take my fitness and lifestyle to another level, and I can’t wait for that as well," she added.

Though she is still basking in the fact that she was selected in Donaldson's final squad, Brooks, who earns her Island stripes through her mother Tandi Nelson-Brooks, revealed that celebrations will be low-key, as she braces for her freshman year at Washington State University.

"It’s a great feeling being selected for my first World Cup. There’s nothing like it, because it is the highest stage of competition in both the men and women’s game, so of course it’s a very big achievement. 

"Unfortunately, there are no real celebrations. I’m off to college so an eight-hour car ride is all the celebration I’ll be doing, but I’ll be happy to celebrate a little with my new teammates, who I'm sure are just as happy as I am," she shared.

Still, the sense of pride and accomplishment Brooks feels cannot be understated having successfully transitioned from Under-17 and Under-20 representation, where she showed immense ability, which caught the senior Reggae Girlz coach staff's attention since their historic tour of South Korea late last year.

"It’s extremely massive. It puts my name on the international map at the senior level at an early stage, but for me it just makes me hungrier to strive for more than a spot on the roster next time," Brooks declared. 

"I want to play and being around the senior players have shown me that there is always work to be done, but I’ll learn from those around me and use my own experiences along the way to get there. The aim is always to push as hard as possible and to be a better player and these experiences will help me to improve," she noted.

That said, the tall and agile goalkeeper admitted that the initial stages of her transition were nerve-wracking and did indeed test her mettle but credited her more senior counterparts for their guidance in ensuring she held firm.

"It definitely wasn’t easy and still isn’t. The team itself is great and very welcoming, but I personally struggle with my own confidence and that’s what can bring down my performance at times. The team recognized that and encouraged me instead," she explained.

"Becky [Spencer] and Syd [Schneider] are amazing. They are excellent players and even better people. Alyssa [Whitehead], our goalkeeper coach, is as well. All three of them inspire me and push me to be a better player whether they know it or not. That made it really fun, and they got me through even my physically tough training," Brooks ended.

Former senior Reggae Girlz captain Konya Plummer expectedly worked her way back to full fitness to book her spot on Lorne Donaldson's 23-player squad to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next month.

In fact, there were no real surprises to the selections made by Donaldson and his assistants Xavier Gilbert, Ak Lakhani and Laura Thomas, as all the main protagonists –many of whom were a part of the historic 2019 team in France –will be present at this July 20 to August 20 showpiece.

Obviously, form was a big decisive factor in the squad selection and Donaldson, in a previous interview, made that very clear, though in the same breath, he admitted that he had 18 or 19 players locked in, which meant he only had four or five positions to fill.

Donaldson ideally kept a large bulk of the Cup of Nations squad for team harmony purposes, especially since he stressed the need for cohesiveness, so there were only a few changes from that 24 that went down under in February. 

Goalkeepers Rebecca Spencer, Sydney Schneider, and their 17-year-old understudy Liya Brooks, who seem found the liking of Donaldson and his assistants since their historic tour of South Korea in September last year, were always safe.

So too was Allyson Swaby, Chantelle Swaby, Tiernny Wiltshire, Deneisha Blackwood, and Vyan Sampson in the defensive line, along with midfielders Havana Solaun, Drew Spence, Solai Washington, Atlanta Primus, and attackers Khadija Shaw, Jody Brown, Paige Bailey-Gayle, Cheyna Matthews, and Kameron Simmonds.

Simmonds, 19, and Washington, 17, have consistently been logging minutes since the Cup of Nations tournament in Australia and as expected, found favour with the coaching staff as they are viewed as players who can add flexibility to the attacking front.

Both are relatively inexperienced but were effective in those games against Czech Republic, Australia, and more recently Sheffield and these World Cup debutants could be difference-makers from the bench.

At one point there were concerns that Donaldson's faith in Trudi Carter reduced as the months go by, and it was evident by her omission from the camp in England. However, the nippy attacker, currently without a club since her contract with Spanish Liga F club FC Levante Las Planas expired, proved her readiness at a just-concluded camp in Jamaica.

Ohio State midfielder Peyton McNamara, who, like the other young players, always commanded the coaching staff's attention and the 22-year-old was rightly handed a spot, especially with Siobhan Wilson of Birmingham City, missing out due to injury.

Sashana "Pete" Campbell, who wasn't called upon since she picked up an injury at the Concacaf Women's Championship in Mexico, reported fit and healthy for the recent camp and made the cut, as an emergency alternative to fill the centre back or full back positions, if needed.

That said, a lot of emphasis was placed on the readiness of Plummer and the 25-year-old, who only resumed training late last year, after giving birth to her son, erased all doubts about her readiness for a second-consecutive World Cup appearance, as she hit competitive mode at the right time to make a return to the squad in the heart of the defence.

Versatility was always expected to be a characteristic held in high regard if players want to go the distance at the global showpiece and Tiffany Cameron is a perfect example, given her ability as an attacker and now as a right full back.

It is that show of versatility that secured Cameron's place in the final 23.

Prior to the Cup of Nations tournament, Cameron did not get many minutes, until she accepted the fact that she would not make the squad as an attacker.

Despite logging over 14 goals and 10 assists in over 15 games for her Hungarian top-flight club FC Gyor, Cameron, who could be considered an important leader in the Reggae Girlz group, embraced change and made the right full back position her comfort zone. She is expected to rotate the position with Wiltshire and possibly Chantelle Swaby.

Donaldson beamed about the makeup of the squad, pointing out that players, Plummer, Carter and Campbell, in particular, selected themselves. 

"We always try to pick the best possible squad, things changed along the way with injuries and so on, but the players consistently turned up and proved to us that they were worthy of their positions. Konya and Trudi came in and did well, two veteran players, we know what they were capable of I didn't select them, they selected themselves because even though they are without clubs, they committed themselves to the task by training on their own and did very well when they came into camp," Donaldson told 

"It is basically the same for the young players, they did well camp after camp, they proved they belong among the veterans, and we had no choice but to put them in. Their fitness was also on par, and we have no doubt that they will give a good account of themselves," he added.

Meanwhile, Kayla McKenna, formerly McCoy, who missed out on the 2019 showpiece at the very last minute due to injury, has now been given another shot, as she has been doing well with Scottish Women’s Premier League Club Rangers.

"Kayla again, is a veteran she picked up an injury when we were in England, but we have been in contact with her club, and they assured us that she will be ready for the World Cup. She is one of those players who brings value to the attack as a point player so we know she will do well," Donaldson noted.

"Where Campbell is concerned, she is a very versatile player, who can give us quality work in any position between defence and attack. So, if she if she is needed, we can have her come in because she has a lot of quality. So, we feel like it's a very balanced squad, Trudi, Jody and Vyan are also versatile, so it's a squad we like, and we just have to wait and see what happens," he shared.

Racing Louisville's Satara Murray and Brighton's Victoria Williams missed out on selection along with Rachel Jones, and 2019 veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman, both of whom have been absent from the squad for quite some time. Mireya Grey and Olufolasade Adamolekun, who were also present in France, also failed to make the cut.

The Girlz will contest Group F alongside France, Brazil and Panama at the World Cup.

World Cup Squad: Goalkeepers: Rebecca Spencer, Sydney Schneider, Liya Brooks

Defenders: Allyson Swaby, Chantelle Swaby, Konya Plummer, Tiernny Wiltshire, Tiffany Cameron, Deneisha Blackwood, Peyton McNamara, Sashana Campbell (Alternate player)

Midfielders: Havana Solaun, Vyan Sampson, Drew Spence, Atlanta Primus, Solai Washington, Trudi Carter

Forwards: Khadija Shaw, Jody Brown, Paige Bailey-Gayle, Kameron Simmonds, Cheyna Matthews, Kalyssa Van Zanten, Kayla McKenna


With some of Jamaica's young female football players being an important phase of their development, Xavier Gilbert believes the upcoming Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games represents a good opportunity for them to express themselves as they continue their growth process.

In fact, Gilbert, who will serve as Head coach for the youthful outfit to the June 24 to July 7 Games in El Salvador, says it important to expose players to competitive tournaments like these, especially since they represent the next generation of senior Reggae Girlz.

Olufolasade Adamolekun, Chris-Ann Chambers, Mireya Grey and siblings Mikayla Dayes and Malika Dayes, are the only players in the 20-member squad with senior Reggae Girlz experience.

The rest of the team, stacked with overseas-based players, comprises players who just completed the Under-20 cycle, while Shanhaine Nelson, Sydoney Clarke and Logan McFadden, are making a return to the programme.

The Girlz are drawn in Group B alongside Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico and Puerto Rico for the football tournament which begins on June 28.

"As you can see the makeup of the squad is mostly young players so this is just another opportunity for development and should be an excellent stage for those young players to go out and express themselves without fear of failure. Yes, we want to win some games and we hope to give a good account of ourselves but again, this tournament is more than a win at all cost mentality," Gilbert told 

"We want to play in a way that is conducive to developing technical footballers that can dominate possession and stay on the ball under pressure. So, exposing our young players to the competitive cauldron of tournaments like this is only beneficial if as coaches, we stay true to our aim of development, keeping it centered on the players," he added.

Gilbert pointed out that familiarity among the players will be crucial to their competitiveness, as the team will enter the tournament with very little preparation under their belt.

“Unfortunately, we won’t be having a lot of training sessions but whatever we can do, we will make the best of it before the first game against Colombia. The good thing is that a lot of the players are familiar with each other which is good, we just have to ensure that we do everything we can do to make sure there is good camaraderie once we get to El Salvador," he said.

It is for that reason why Gilbert welcomed the addition of some senior players, noting that their experience will be invaluable in not only assisting the younger players to adjust both on and off the field, but from a leadership perspective, they can ensure everyone is on one accord.

Goalkeeper Chambers was an integral part of the Reggae Girlz historic World Cup qualification in 2018 and was the team's ambassador at the 2019 showpiece in France, while Adomolekun and Grey were a part of the squad that paraded their skills against Australia, Italy and Brazil at that same world tournament.

“It is good to have them on board, as they will provide some level of leadership and the expectation again, is just to give the level of exposure to these young players, most of whom might be in the next (senior Reggae Girlz) cycle. So having this level of exposure is really good for them and Jamaica’s football," Gilbert noted.

“I think we should be able to give a good account of ourselves, the teams, especially Mexico will be taking their strongest units so I think that will be our toughest test. Of course, Colombia, El Salvador and Puerto Rico, will have a strong unit as well and are quality opponents. But we remain focused on what it is that we want to accomplish, and I am sure we will have much to be pleased about at the end of the Games," he ended.

Squad: Andrene Smith, Chris- Ann Chambers, Dannique Wilson, Davia Richards, Destiny Powell, Katie Oakley, Kersha Thomas, Lauren Reid, Logan McFadden, Maliah Atkins, Mikayla Dayes, Malika Dayes, Mireya Grey, Natoya Atkinson, Olufolasade Adamolekun, Shaneil Buckley, Shanhaine Nelson, Sheyenne Bonnick, Sydoney Clarke, Theanna Burnett


After a week of intense training where they pushed their limits to impress the coaching staff and also had a few off-field issues, Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz capped their 10-day stay in the island in a most fitting way –with fun, frolic, and entertainment on Tuesday. 

The "Goodbye and good luck" session with the Reggae Girlz held at Summit House (formerly Knutsford Court Hotel), hosted by minister of sport Olivia "Babsy" Grange, was the perfect opportunity for the Lorne Donaldson-led technical staff and players to unwind in the company of family, friends and well-wishers.

But beyond that, the sendoff event was also used to raise funds for the Girlz programme with a few corporate entities and individuals committing as much as US$10,000 (just over $1.5 million Jamaican), as their way of rallying around the team ahead of a second-consecutive FIFA Women's World Cup appearance.

Donaldson expressed pleasure seeing the Girlz enjoying themselves just as hard as they trained.

"Yeah, it's good, we had a very successful camp, one of the most successful we have had in a while, we covered a lot of grounds and we saw a lot from the players, as they really dug in and showed that they want to make the team to the World Cup," Donaldson told during the event which lasted well over four hours.

"So, this is the ultimate way for them to relax, some things happened over the weekend that would have been a distraction so, again, this is a great way to take their mind off things. Plenty of fun and just generally chilling out because when we get to Amsterdam, it will be all business again," he added.

Having completed their assessments for the most parts, Donaldson and his assistants Xavier Gilbert, Laura Thomas and Ak Lakhani, are expected to name the final 23-player squad to the World Cup in the coming week. The Girlz are drawn in Group F alongside France, Brazil and Panama for the July 20 to August 20 showpiece in Australia and New Zealand. 

"We have seen a lot, especially at this camp here, it allowed us to look at players like Konya Plummer and Trudi Carter, who are both without clubs, so again, it was really good to see where they are at and after this, we will just zone in on selecting the best 23 to represent Jamaica at the World Cup," Donaldson shared.

Sashana "Pete" Campbell was one of those players that came into the camp as a late addition after some time away and the utility was pleased that she had an opportunity to parade her skills for the coaching staff.

"The camp was great football wise, all the ladies left their best on the field as we are all aware that positions for the World Cup are up for grabs, so it is now up to the coaches to decide who they think is best fit for the team. 

"The sendoff party was even better, after a long week and few days, it was good to just unwind and have a great night together. A lot of us have been playing right through, so it was just good to have some fun time," Campbell, who plays professionally in Poland, said.

Left full-back Deneisha Blackwood, echoed similar sentiments.

“We had a great training camp where we focused on preparing ourselves as best as we can and not think about the off-field issues or distractions. So, the main focus was just to get better for the World Cup," Blackwood said.

"I said in a previous interview that I just want us to be in the best mental state as a group and I think once everybody has the right mindset we will do well. This sendoff party would have done a lot for us where that is concerned, we were able to have some fun, free our minds and we had family and friends here which was good. So, it was good to relieve some tension which is the most important thing for us now," she added.

Though it seems the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has walked back on initial contemplations to fire senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson, the smoke is not yet fully cleared as President Michael Ricketts confirmed that the board is still awaiting a report from the technical committee regarding actions to be taken against the tactician. understands that members of the JFF board had a meeting where a vote was taken to relieve Donaldson of his duties stemming from an issue where he told the governing football body's chairperson for women’s football Elaine Walker-Brown, not to board the team bus for a recent excursion to Dunn’s River Falls.

However, sources close to the situation revealed that Donaldson was merely relaying the message of the players, who threatened to walk off the bus if Walker-Brown boarded, as it was "not a JFF thing". This was in reference to the fact that the excursion was largely paid for by minister of sport Olivia "Babsy" Grange and Reggae Girlz ambassador Cedella Marley.

In a bid to avoid a standoff and a possible embarrassing situation in full view of an overseas crew filming a documentary, it is said that Donaldson met Walker-Brown on the way to the bus to share the players' mental and physical discomfort at her presence. This did not sit well with Walker-Brown and since then, the coach has been in the firing line.

While not confirming that as the reason for discussions regarding Donaldson, Ricketts expressed displeasure with "certain utterances", but said dismissing the coach was no longer on the cards.

"The truth is, we are unhappy with certain utterances, but that is not on the cards right now, we are just waiting on reports from the general secretary and the technical committee," Ricketts told during a sendoff event for the Girlz on Tuesday.

"The technical committee would have had a meeting with him [Donaldson], in fact, he was supposed to have had another meeting today (Tuesday) that fell through. Even though we are dissatisfied with certain utterances and pronouncements, the technical committee will make a recommendation to the JFF and then I think the board will act on that," he added.

When pressed further about the reason and timing of any actions to be taken, more so, the firing of the coach with the World Cup now less than a month away, Ricketts agreed that it would negatively impact progress.

Donaldson was expected to name the final 23-player squad for the July 20 to August 20 showpiece, in Australia and New Zealand, in the coming week, but it is now left to be seen if he will still be calling the shots after the melee.

"I don't know what the thoughts would be generally, but that (firing of a coach before a tournament) has happened all over the world before. I would want to think that it would have negative implications but the truth is, that has happened before. But we will just wait and see," Ricketts shared.

When approached, Donaldson declined to comment, stating only that he will wait to see how things play out, as he was more focused on the players' wellbeing.

This issue has now added to what has been a lengthy stand-off between the Reggae Girlz and the JFF, primarily due to a lack of compensation. In fact, the Girlz in a recent letter expressed “utmost disappointment” with the handling of their affairs by the JFF.

Among the areas of concerns outlined by the Girlz are subpar planning, transportation, accommodations, training conditions, compensation, communication, nutrition and accessibility to proper resources.

They said, despite sharing their concerns with the federation “on multiple occasions” the issues remain unresolved, and they believe the lack of interest by those in charge, threaten the integrity of women’s football in Jamaica.

This was further compounded by what is said to have been a brewing issue between Marley and Walker-Brown, as it is understood that the latter made comments which were deemed offensive by the Girlz ambassador during a previous virtual meeting with the JFF hierarchy.

It is also understood that this played a part in why the Girlz refused to have Walker-Brown on the excursion.

But Ricketts pointed out that following a meeting with representatives from the team, all parties have since agreed to a truce.

“The general secretary and myself had a meeting with the players this (Tuesday) morning and it went well, of course the contentious issue is always payments and the JFF continues to struggle. We are finding some traction because we were able to get some new sponsors on board, but we owe the Girlz some money and that seem to be the main bone of contention right now,” Ricketts explained.

“There are some other smaller issues that can be corrected easily but the good thing is that they all came out of that meeting in good spirits.  Elaine [Walker-Brown] had a meeting with them afterwards and that seemed to have gone down well too.

“So we are just hoping that the goodwill now, will translate on the field of play and they will be able to execute and win some games. The coach said he believes he has a much stronger unit and, of course, we are hoping that we will not just participate but be competitive at the World Cup,” he ended.

Though disgruntled with the Jamaica Football Federation's (JFF) style of leadership and, by extension, the way they have been treated as players, Reggae Girl Deneisha Blackwood says the team is still focused on the task at hand and will be aiming to execute efficiently at the FIFA Women’s World Cup next month.

Blackwood and her teammates in a scathing letter released on Thursday, outlined a number of areas of concerns in how the JFF goes about business, chief among them are subpar planning, transportation, accommodations, training conditions, compensation, communication, nutrition and accessibility to proper resources.

These issues the Girlz revealed, remain unresolved despite the fact that they were shared with the federation on multiple occasions.

The Reggae Girlz also pointed out that their preparations for the July 20 to August 20 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, have been impacted by what they say is the federation’s “extreme disorganization”.

This, as they were promised a two-game sendoff series on home soil, which has not materialized due to logistical issues. As such, they are currently engaged in a camp which is expected to end next Wednesday. 

"It is unfortunate that we don't have a game for the sendoff, but I think the girls are focused, we are having a good training camp and we are just trying to prepare and not think about the difficulties that we are facing. So, the main focus is just to get better for the World Cup," Blackwood said.

"I just want us to be in the best mental state as a group and I think once everybody has the right mindset we will do well. I just want to support my teammates whether I'm on or off the field, that has always been my biggest thing being a part of this Reggae Girlz setup, the way we play with and for each other, so that is the most important thing for us now," she added.

With the team vibe in the right place, coupled with the fact that competition for final spots to the global showpiece are still up for grabs, Blackwood said they are gradually identifying those ingredients that gets everyone motivated, both during practice and game time.

The 26-year-old left full-back used the Cup of Nations tournament in Australia in February -- where the lost 0-3 to Spain and the host nation, and 2-3 to Czech Republic --and their most recent camp in England, a 2-0 win over Sheffield United, as good examples of the strides they have made.

"I think for the last couple camps, this is the best we have had in terms of chemistry and everybody buying into what is required. As coach said it is a very competitive environment and people are fighting for their positions, but we have come together as a team and I think our chemistry is so good right now," Blackwood noted.

"We left Australia on a high and even though we didn't win any of the games, I think the takeaway is that we are not afraid of teams. They were surprised that we came out the way we did but we wanted to keep surprising people because a lot of people don't think we are good or don't expect us to do well," she opined.

That said, Blackwood believes that the addition of English-born players, Rebecca Spencer, Drew Spence, Atlantic Primus, Vyan Sampson and Paige Bailey-Gayle, along with young players Solai Washington, Kameron Simmonds, Peyton McNamara and goalkeeper Liya Brooks, adds more value to the programme when compared to their debut World Cup appearance in France in 2019.

"I think it's good that we brought a lot of players in, maybe they didn't play in the last World Cup, but they have a lot of experience in football especially the English players and I think that's a good thing for us. They bring a lot of professionalism to the team, and I think everybody is feeding off of it and bringing good energy.

"I also think the younger players also bring a lot to the table as they not only keep us on our toes, but we can motivate them and they feed off us also because they are the next generation of Reggae Girlz, so having them there is definitely something good for us and good for the programme on a whole," Blackwood stated.

At the upcoming World Cup, Lorne Donaldson’s 43rd-ranked Reggae Girlz will once again come face-to-face with Brazil, France and Panama in Group F, and Blackwood is confident that they can progress beyond the group stages.

"Football is a very funny game so people can say stuff, but we go into every game like we have never played the team before and so I think that is the type of mentality we have, and we are not just going to go there and let them come and just walk over us," she declared. 


The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is now moving to save face, as they have once again been called out by the senior Reggae Girlz over a range of issues which they players say, have affected their preparation for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, in Australia and New Zealand.

The Girlz in a widely circulated letter first shared on social media by prolific striker and captain Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, expressed “utmost disappointment” with the handling of their affairs by the JFF.

Among the areas of concerns outlined by the Girlz are subpar planning, transportation, accommodations, training conditions, compensation, communication, nutrition and accessibility to proper resources.

Despite sharing their concerns with the federation “on multiple occasions” the Girlz pointed out that the issues remain unresolved, and they believe the lack of interest by those in charge, threaten the integrity of women’s football in Jamaica.

The Reggae Girlz also say that their preparations for the July 20 to August 20 global showpiece have been impacted by what they say is the federation’s “extreme disorganization”.

“In recent months, due to extreme disorganization of camp logistics, we have missed several official FIFA friendly matches. This will undoubtedly impact our preparations for Australia,” they said.

“The Reggae Girlz consist of professional and collegiate footballers who are spread out across the world. To be left questioning whether a camp will even take place two or three days before the expected start is unprofessional and often prohibitive for some of our players,” the Girlz added.

The Girlz said that they hope “by using our platforms to express the reality of our situation, our efforts will be reciprocated.

“We hope there will be immediate and systematic change within our federation and those in charge of protecting the integrity of women’s football,” the letter ended.

Meanwhile, the governing football body in response, said they have noted the Reggae Girlz concerns and are taking them seriously.

“We acknowledge that things have not been done perfectly, and we are working assiduously to resolve them. We will continue to support the team in every way possible, so that they can be successful at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand,” the JFF said.

A similar situation came to the fore in 2019 ahead of the Girlz World Cup debut appearance in France. Then, the Girlz main issues were the absence of a proper contract and salaries for players.

For all the experience that Rebecca Spencer possesses in what has been a fairly successful career, she has never been to a global tournament before, so this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, would be her crowning moment.

The England-born goalkeeper, who started her career in the youth system at Watford before moving to Arsenal, also spent time at Nottingham Forest and Gillingham on loan, after which she travelled to France where she had a stint with ASJ Soyaux.

Spencer later returned to England and had spells at Birmingham City, Chelsea and West Ham United, but later found the right fit with her current employers Tottenham Hotspurs. 

Along the way, she was capped by England at Under-19 and Under-20 levels and also received a call-up to the senior England squad in 2016.

However, in June 2021, Spencer, who qualifies to represent Jamaica through her grandparents, made her senior international debut with the senior Reggae Girlz and was instrumental in the team’s second-consecutive World Cup qualification, as she paraded her goalkeeping skills with much gusto, particularly, at the Concacaf Women’s Championship in Mexico.

At 32 years old, the vastly experienced Spencer has no qualms in admitting that she is at a ripe age in her career, especially in an era when bright young prospects are unearthed at an increasingly earlier age, which is why she is intent on making the most of this opportunity.

In fact, she is currently facing stiff competition from 23-year-old Sydney Schneider to decide who will be the Reggae Girlz number one shot-stopper at the showpiece, with 18-year-old Liya Brooks as their understudy.

The Lorne Donaldson-coached Girlz are currently engaged in a local camp after which the tactician and his assistant Xavier Gilbert will decide on the final 23-player squad for the July 20 to August 20 World Cup.

"Personally, I want to have the best competition of my life, obviously I'm 32, so I'm not getting any younger. But you know, nothing really phases me in any situation, I kind of have a lot of experience obviously playing in England so long, so I hope I can bring that experience to the World Cup and help the team," Spencer said.

"So, I am look forward to it and hopefully I can just do my Job and be there for the team and the rest of the team will put their best foot forward as well. Like coach said our team is probably the best we have ever had so I am really confident in what we can do when we get to the World Cup. We could surprise everyone that's there," she added.

Having joked about her age declaring that some days she is reflective, it is left to be seen if Spencer will push her career to possibly make another World Cup appearance in 2027, but until then she is living in the moment and, as such, is firmly focused on steadily building towards the upcoming tournament.

"Obviously it would be a very proud moment, but I haven't thought that far ahead as yet, we still have a lot more preparation time to go that I've not let that part of it sink in as yet," Spencer said.

"I'm just focusing on camp-to-camp and at the moment my mind is fully here not the World Cup as yet. I want to get this training week out of the way and obviously, if selected, when we get to Amsterdam, it's going to give a feel of how things are going to be when we get to Melbourne. Once we get to Amsterdam, then its go time for us," she reasoned.

Many may not be aware, but Spencer, like many before her, initially started out as a striker, before finding comfort in goalkeeping, a complex position that requires physicality, strong mentality, and a highly unique set of skills. 

While every good goalkeeper must be able to produce a range of different saves, there’s a lot more to it than just technical ability. Spencer would tell you that a top goalkeeper needs to be brave, an excellent communicator, focused, determined, and, more importantly, willing to endure the criticisms and disappointments that come with the job.

"Playing football at the highest level is challenging in every moment, there are plenty of ups and downs but it's also very rewarding because I measure success through personal growth. So yes, there are disappointments but if I set certain goals for each season or a tournament and I achieve them, that's certainly a success for me," she shared.

Finally, Spencer, who pointed out that if it wasn't football, she would have enjoyed working in health care, because she enjoys taking care of people in need, welcomed the initiative by FIFA which guarantees all players at the World Cup at least US$30,000 in prize money.

"Obviously it's excellent, it's a big incentive for players and we are going to be geared up to get out of the group stages which means it could be more, but for us as players, we don't normally think about that, we normally focus on the football, but FIFA has done a great thing by doing that," she ended.


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