The tough task of selecting the best combination

Saturday, April 06, 2019

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Believe it or not, just two months remain for the Fifa Women's World Cup set for June 7 to July 7 in France.

We are told that the Reggae Girlz trip to South Africa, which climaxes tomorrow (Sunday) with a friendly international against the host country, may be the last chance for “fringe players” to make the cut for France.

Team selection is among sport's more difficult jobs. Those with the responsibility must look at many different aspects — some the average lay person may not even contemplate.

They must put their personal preferences aside and seek to be as objective as is humanly possible as they seek to make selections that will help the team perform to full potential at the World Cup.

Reggae Girlz Assistant Coach Mr Lorne Donaldson summed it up: “As coaches, we will have to be as fair and honest as we can, but feelings are going to get hurt, but in the long run, we have to do what's best for the team and Jamaica.”

In yesterday's edition of this newspaper Head Coach Mr Hue Menzies is reported as saying: “Right now we are looking for who is sharper and who is making quicker decisions with the ball and who is looking to combine, and who will make the decisions that could change the game…”

Of course, Mr Menzies and his staff must also consider fitness and the willingness of each player to go the extra mile during training in order to improve.

Not just raw technical ability, but tactical awareness and the capacity to follow the coach's instructions — even while being ready to adapt to changing situations on the field — and to take the initiative when necessary, all come into play in the selection process.

Then there is also the perception of a player's capacity to consistently maintain personal discipline, work hard, withstand intense pressure, blend easily with teammates on and off the field, and, most of all, put the team's interests first, no matter what.

A feature by Deputy Sports Editor Mr Sean Williams published on Thursday, titled 'Reggae Girlz mixing it up with brain and brawn', which embraced interviews he did with footballers and university scholars Misses Jadyn Matthews and Brittany Simpson brought another dimension to the table.

They spoke of the value of higher education and intellectual training in competitive sport, and in this particular case football.

“…I think that having an academic background helps you think in a different way,” said Miss Matthews. And, according to Miss Simpson, “Soccer and academics go hand in hand...”

Said she: “Having brains on the soccer pitch is important, because you can have skill and still not be able to read the game, and education will give you that background that will help your soccer.”

All these and more Mr Menzies and his staff must consider as they prepare to select the best possible squad. We don't envy them, even as we wish them all the best.

Also, we wish the Reggae Girlz good health and fortune as they take on the South Africans in their backyard.

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