Miss Khadija Shaw: A symbol of hope and possibilities

Monday, December 31, 2018

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In a Jamaica which suffers from a lack of opportunity, disillusionment and violent crime, every drop of inspiration is welcome.

Young people are the most affected in the aforementioned categories; therefore, they are the ones who desperately need a spark of hope.

We fully recognise that in this dispensation of falling values and attitudes, and where societal ills have often been blamed on the nation's youth, there is an active counter-culture.

For, beneath the cloud that beshadows our country, there are young people who are determined to represent what is good about Jamaica — either through academics, sport, culture, charity, or volunteerism.

So when news broke that Reggae Girlz striker Miss Khadija Shaw was named The Guardian's Footballer of the Year we were heartened.

For here is another Jamaican youth who has soared, against enormous odds, to heady heights on good, old-fashioned Jamaican values of hard work, determination and common decency.

Miss Shaw's award by the respected and widely circulated British newspaper is made special as she is the first female to be so bestowed.

A testament of the accolade's value can be measured by the stature of the previous winners — Italian Fabio Piscane in 2016 and Spain's Juan Mata in 2017.

So, for Miss Shaw, only 21 years old, to be elevated in the company of football nobility is a powerful statement of her accomplishments.

As we understand it, The Guardian's Footballer of the Year award is reserved for a player who has done something “truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others, or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty”.

We dare say that our queen of football embodies all of these extraordinary and rare human qualities.

The University of Tennessee senior, we believe, is deserving of the award, not only for her instrumental role with 19 unmatched goals which helped Jamaica to their historic qualification to the Fifa Women's World Cup in France 2019, but that she is a proven champion of overcoming tragedy.

In Miss Shaw's young and developing life she had to conquer losing four brothers — three to the gun in her heartland of Spanish Town and the other to a vehicular accident.

That was no easy cross to bear, but somehow she has found that steely will to rise above her personal tragedies, remain focused and succeed at everything she has so far put her hand and heart to.

In a glimpse of her unselfish soul, this was how Miss Shaw responded when she learnt she had won the award: “Everything happened because of my teammates, so I just want to continue focusing on the team, and once we continue working hard as a team, hopefully, I won't be the only one winning awards, but my other teammates will as well, or we get them as a group.”

We could learn a great deal from that powerful statement, especially where our people have, at times, focused on self over the unity of purpose and greater good of all.

The exploits of the former St Jago High School student have already won her the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence, and we wish her success as a nominee for Sportswoman of the Year.

In Miss Shaw Jamaica has found inspiration for all youth. Her shining example is emblematic that hope lives on in Jamaica, land we love.

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