Shaneka Gordon finally comes home from the cold
SANJAY MYERS Reporting from the CFU WOMAN’S CHAMPIONSHIP In Trinidad & Tobago
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago — Reggae Girlz newcomer Shaneka Gordon cut a slightly frustrated figure on Tuesday as she trudged off the field after Jamaica's 4-1 victory over Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Championship.
From a team perspective, the Jamaican senior women missed numerous chances throughout the encounter en route to gathering three valuable points.
Gordon, on her competitive debut for the national side, was a constant menace and found herself in good positions to score on several occasions, but just could not find the back of the net.
As the Jamaica Observer spoke to her at the team's hotel on Wednesday, the fleet-footed winger appeared calm and resolute. Offering a soft smile as she harked back to Tuesday's outing, the Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine native admitted that eagerness got the better of her.
"It was the first time [for me] at this level and it was exciting and I was nervous. I put my mind too hard on it, trying to score," the 28-year-old said.
"From here I'll really show all my talent. I'll relax and keep my mind open and I will score. We've got a very talented team so once we play for each other, we'll conquer anything," she added, looking ahead to the remainder of the tournament.
Based on the travels that her professional career has afford her and the wealth of experience she has garnered, it is hard to doubt her.
Gordon says she was a sprinter and high-jump athlete in her time at Vere Technical, before leaving Jamaica for the United States as a teenager. Interestingly, it was in the States where she started playing football seriously. After high school and university she was drafted to play for Atlanta Beat and then moved to Iceland to represent Grindavik in 2010.
Their demotion forced her to find a home at another Iceland club, IBV Vestmannaeyja. She has held her own there since 2011, battling cold temperatures and coming to grips with a different style of play.
"The way they play is very direct compared to the play in the US or in Jamaica, so it's challenging. Regarding the cold, I'm not a person who loves the cold weather, but it's not really a problem to me right now because I've been there for a few years," she said, while adding that the football pre-season is usually the coldest time of the year in Iceland.
Gordon explained that the women's football season runs from May to September.
It may come as a surprise to Reggae Girlz supporters that one so obviously talented has only just been drafted into the Jamaica national set-up, for either the senior or youth teams.
For Reggae Girlz head coach Merron Gordon (no relation), her inclusion at this stage is a no-brainer.
"She is a quick winger, a tricky player and she's a professional on and off the field. She is quite friendly, too, so she fits in like she was with the team from day one. She is definitely quality and I know she will give us positive things in this tournament," he said.
The new-found Reggae Girl opined that she flew under the radar since departing the island years ago.
"I left Jamaica when I was 15, lived in New York and then went on to the University of West Florida. I'm not really in Jamaica for people to see me and give me the chance at a trial to play for Jamaica. I was lucky and I got picked. Now I'm very excited I have the chance to play and I want to give my all, just go out there to do my best," she said.