The day Jamaica created history and qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the axis of the women’s game in CONCACAF shifted in a seismic way.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz’s qualification to France 2019 signified in part an unprecedented growth and development leap for the Caribbean.

Importantly, too, the fairytale success story was of monumental historical proportion, as the island became the first from the region to be catapulted into the stratosphere of the global game and its greatest stage, the World Cup.

On October 17, 2018, at the Concacaf Women’s Championship inside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Jamaica achieved the unthinkable.

In the third-place match, the Girlz defeated Panama in an epic match, which ended 2-2 after regulation and extra time. And the two, with the scent of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in scope, had to be separated by the dreaded penalties. As it turned out, Jamaica triumphed 4-2, and the rest, as they say, is history.

On that magical journey, was assistant coach Andrew Price and he recalled the momentous occasion as if it happened yesterday.

“The emotions were like a roller-coaster on the bench in that final qualifying game [against Panama]. We took the lead on two occasions and lost it twice. We deliberately saved our changes late in the game to ensure that we would have been prepared for extra time.

“But the masterstroke was when we decided to replace goalkeeper Sydney Schneider with Nicole McClure. We had practised penalties the day before and Nicole was amazing in goal, so when we saw the clock winding down, it was important that we put her on the pitch before time expired,” said Price.

As part of a technical team led by Head Coach Hue Menzies, the assistant coach revelled in the tactical astuteness of the coaches, for he thought the off-the-field decisions had a positive impact on the outcome of the match.

“In practising the penalty kicks, we made the players make the long walk from half-line to the penalty box to take each kick, so for that match day the players would be prepared for the scenario, and everything worked to perfection. As you know, Nicole saved two penalties and we scored all our penalties,” Price re-collected.       

The experienced tactician said there was self-belief in the camp that the World Cup dream was reachable as the team went through the layers of qualification.

“The confidence and self-belief came after the first round of the Caribbean World Cup Qualifying held in Haiti. It was a difficult tournament in terms of the conditions and environment that the young ladies had to face.

“The real test was the final game of the round, between ourselves and the host Haiti, as we battled for the one qualifying spot. We went into the game on similar points, but we had a superior goal difference of two goals. All we needed was to draw to advance. In front of a partisan and sometimes hostile crowd of 15,000 Haitian supporters, we trailed 2-0 in the first half.

“But we showed our real strength by pulling a goal back before halftime. During the halftime talk, we told the Girlz to relax and play their normal game. They went out, and in a stirring performance, silenced the crowd with the equalizing goal. For the remainder of the match, we fought tooth and nail to ensure we advanced to the next round,” Price reminisced.

As the qualifying journey took its twists and turns, the Girlz saw themselves more than just competitors but real contenders for a spot at France 2019.

“With each passing round of the qualification, the confidence of the Girlz grew. They believed they were on a mission to accomplish something great. They grew into a closely-knit family -- all for one and one for all. They were willing to be patient and trust the process, and they did so one game at a time. They took obstacles as inspiration to work that much harder,” said Price.

He said when the final whistle went in the decisive match against Panama, there was a feeling of euphoria that swept through the team and all the support staff.

“We were just overcome with joy. The immediate reaction was to scream, ‘We did it’. We were so elated. We jumped and hugged each other. Then our next reaction was to get on the pitch and celebrate with the Girlz. The moment was surreal. It was as if time stopped for the moment,” Price said.

Jamaica’s success, said Price, was a signature moment for the entire Caribbean, a rallying cry that anything is possible if one dares to dream.

“Most definitely it was a triumph for the entire Caribbean. No different from when Haiti qualified for their first Men's World Cup in 1974. It inspired nations like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago that it could be done. Similarly, our historic qualification will inspire other Caribbean countries. The gap is closing between the world powers in football and the others, as a global village has made the catching up achievable,” he reasoned.

“Previously in Concacaf, the automatic teams would be the USA, Canada and Mexico. But now you have Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Haiti, Trinidad and others knocking at the door. This comes as a result of FIFA and Concacaf assisting significantly in the development of the Women's game,” Price added.

In France, the Girlz lost all their Group C matches, but even in defeat against significantly stronger opponents, the learning experience was priceless.

“From the draw, we were quite aware we were in the ‘Group of Death’, with top-ranked teams such as Brazil, Australia and Italy. It was always going to be difficult against these teams. But we made up our minds that we were going to be competitive and give a good account of ourselves. The experience we gained was all a part of the learning curve. It is the experience you can only get by playing against the best,” Price noted.

 Vere United drubbed Humble Lion 3-1 in a drama-filled Clarendon derby in the Jamaica Premier League at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Sunday.

In addition to the four goals, there were six yellow cards, one to Vere’s head coach Donovan Duckie, and two red cards. It all climaxed when Anjay Gayle, who came on as a substitute in the 90th minute for Kevin Johnson, scored in the 92nd minute.

Johnson, who had come on for Tyrese Harrison in the 67th minute, was substituted because coach Donovan Duckie was determined to get Gayle into the game.

Before all that, Man-of-the-Match Ricardo Messam scored two goals of high quality - in the 27th and 57th minutes - that proved to be cornerstones of the Vere United victory.

Vere United took the lead after Humble Lion’s defender Kemar Drake failed to clear his area, allowing Messam to slot home. Andrew Vanzie would pull Humble Lion level in the 37th minute from the penalty spot for a handball in the box.

Four minutes later, things began to go downhill for Humble Lion when defender Linval Lewis was ejected after picking up his second yellow card. A man short, Humble Lion conceded a second goal when Messam tapped home after the ball rebounded into his path.

Following what was their second win of the season, Vere climbed into a tie with Harbour View at the top of the table on eight points. However, Harbour View are ahead on goal difference.

Humble Lion, meanwhile, are without a point at the foot of the table after their fourth consecutive loss, which left Head Coach Andrew Price livid.

“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot every week and getting that red card so very early in the first half, we were always behind the eight ball and had to battle against a team with a numerical advantage,” Price said.

“We have to find ways of managing and playing the game properly. We have to play with some common sense and we not doing that right now, which is unfortunate, and giving up goals that the opponents don't have to work hard for.”

Meanwhile, Duckie was more than satisfied with the three points.

 “Well, full credit to my team. It’s a derby game and we know exactly what would have happened. I thought the referee had his hands full but did the best he could,” he said.

“We scored some goals today which is unlike us because we started to play from a defensive position but I thought the guys stuck to the task and it was hard work that gave us the victory.”

A stunning goal and a beautiful assist by 19-year-old Dwayne “Busy” Atkinson gave a youthful Cavalier FC a deserved  2-0 win over an ageing Humble Lion team in the feature encounter at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Saturday.

The lively Atkinson, who came on as a 46th-minute substitute, fired a dipping shot from 25 metres that whistled past a bewildered Dennis Taylor in goal for Humble Lion in the 77th minute.

It was a beautiful goal deserving to be the first of this new season from a  player, who Head Coach Rudolph Speid said was arguably the best player in the country when he was just 15-years-old.

Then in time added on in the 90+2, Atkinson latched onto a ball at the halfway line and in one motion with the outside of his right foot, curled a beautiful through ball into the path of fellow substitute Courtney Allen, who rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home.

It was three very good points for a spritely and youthful Cavalier team with an average age of 20 years and they have thrown down the gauntlet that they will be contenders.

The Clarendon-based Humble Lion unbelievably averaging 32 years, was left stunned by the young guns with some early soul searching needed as to the make-up of their ageing squad.

Man-of-the-Match Atkinson, formerly of Kingston College, said he will be hoping to keep the legacy going set by the former young guns of Cavalier who are now playing overseas.

Meanwhile winning coach Everdean Scarlett, was not surprised by Cavalier’s energy.

“My team gave a good performance of themselves and in the end, it was youthful exuberance that prevailed,” noted Scarlett.

Losing coach Andrew Price said his ageing men could not respond to the more energetic younger Cavalier boys. “We had about 14 training sessions and definitely this Cavalier team has been training long before us and they are a much fitter and younger bunch,” Price pointed out.

“Fatigue set in and we had to make some substitutions but it’s a learning curve. The mind is saying they can do thing but their body won’t allow  them,” said Price

“In the second half Cavalier really turn on the burners on us. But it’s the first game so I won’t mark them too hard,” he added.

The Jamaica Football Federation is mourning the death of Maurice ‘Danny’ Lyn, the owner and former coach of Constant Spring FC, who died today after a battle with cancer at the age of 72.

For more than three decades Lyn was a major player in the Jamaican football community. He was born in Hong Kong before his family migrated to Jamaica coached Constant Spring to several Major League in the 1987/’88, ‘90/91 and ‘92/’93 seasons. Constant Spring won a fourth title during the 2017/’18 season. The team also won the inaugural Jackie Bell Knockout competition in the 1987/88 season.

Lyn also led the club to its only Premier League final during the 1994/’95 season where they lost 1-0 to Reno in the final. Constant Spring also won the only edition of the National ‘A’ League in 1999/2000.

In 2011, Lyn was awarded the Abe Alexander Award from the Kingston and St. Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) for outstanding contribution to local football.

The JFF said Lyn was committed to local football.

“Danny Lyn, as he was widely known, gave his heart and his life to the sport he loved. He was active in every area of the sport, although coaching and mentoring were his passion,” said the JFF in a statement today.

“Danny contributed to the success and livelihood of countless youngsters over many years. The Constant Spring Football Club and the Constant Spring Football Field stand as monuments to his support of the beautiful game.

“His close association with JFF affiliates the Kingston and St. Andrew Football Association and the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association kept football alive and kicking day and night. We are forever indebted to him.

“The JFF through President Mr Michael Ricketts conveys sincerest condolences to his family; close friends and the KSAFA family.”

News of Lyn’s death drew reaction from several members of the coaching fraternity.

Among them, was Andrew Price, who coaches the Humble Lion Football Club in Jamaica’s Premier League. As a student, Price played for St George’s College, which was also Lyn’s alma mater.

“His contribution to the development of football in Jamaica cannot be quantified. We have lost a sterling contributor to football in this country,” said Price, who is also a member of the history-making Reggae Girlz coaching staff. “A man who changed many lives. Walk good Knight. We are much the richer to have shared your life with us. RIP Danny Lyn.”

National U23 Coach Donovan Duckie was also devastated by the news.

“As a boy, I had such passion for coaching, so I would always take the bus to see Constant Spring FC play in the National Premier League.  I never missed a word you spoke at half-time. Sleep well coach. My heart is saddened,” Duckie said in a post on Facebook.

Harbour View Football Club, in a statement on their Facebook page, shed some light on Lyn’s role in the formation of Jamaica’s Premier League.

“Condolences on the passing of our good friend, football stalwart and Constant Spring FC co-owner Maurice 'Danny' Lyn. We lose yet another 'Father-Figure' of the local game, who gave his all to grow the game through his club, KSAFA with the JFF,” said the statement.

 “In 1998, Danny helped to host the first real meeting of the newly envisioned Premier League Clubs, at "The Fish Place" across the road from his CSFC then the restaurant of Vin Blaine.

 Montego Bay duo of Seba United's Bruce Gaynor and Wadadah FC's benefactor, Gene Gray, (now deceased) travelled into Kingston to meet with Carvel Stewart (HVFC), Bradley Stewart (Hazard Utd), Dennis Gordon (White Horses FC), and Dawn Spence-Heron (Tivoli Gardens FC).

Rest in Peace Danny, your deeds were well planted for growth.”

 

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