Shame in the Dom Rep
Girlz forced to train on dirt patch ahead of crucial game
BOCA CHICA, Dominican Republic — The Reggae Girlz remain resolute despite being faced with a series of challenges ahead of their opening game in Group Five of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifiers against St Lucia tomorrow.
On Tuesday, the technical staff conducted a practice session at the tournament venue in the Estadio Panamericano — over an hour away from the team hotel in Boca Chica.
But yesterday, the Jamaicans had to find a different training location since the hosts Dominican Republic were scheduled to battle St Lucia at the Panamericano venue in San Cristobal later in the day.
There was relief when staff was told that an alternate option was available, barely more than 30 minutes away from their hotel base, but all were left bemused when they arrived at the predominantly dirt-covered field at a community-based multi-purpose sporting facility.
Head coach Merron Gordon was taken aback.
"We were really surprised," Gordon said after going ahead with the session.
"I didn't know that a federation would put an international team on that field, but we just joked about it and the girls reacted in a positive manner. They didn't even think about it much. It was all red dirt and looked similar to Jamalco in terms of bauxite, but the girls played and we had fun."
The entire senior Women's football delegation has been contending with several hurdles since arriving in the Spanish-speaking country.
On Tuesday, there was a moment of confusion after information reached them that their opening encounter had been pushed forward by two days, meaning they would have faced St Lucia yesterday, instead of tomorrow, as per the original fixtures.
The amended schedule was said to be handed out by the local governing body here. But after deliberation between the Jamaican management team and officials from regional governing body CONCACAF and CFU, the attempt to make the change was overruled.
In the meantime, there has been concern over the limited capacity of the lone Coaster bus designated to take the squad and the equipment to practice sessions and matches. Some members of the contingent have suffered cramps and other discomfort during and after the long drive from the hotel to the Panamericano venue.
Gordon remained unfazed and insisted that the key is to top the group and be assured of a place in the CFU Women's Cup Finals to be held in Trinidad & Tobago in August.
"International football is about nation versus nation and people will do just about anything to win at this level, so as a coach you can't put too much of that pressure on the players or even on your mind.
"We are here to do a task and that is the most important thing. If we don't have a bus, we will do without the bus and if we don't have a field, we will do without the field. But we know the most important thing is to get these girls qualified for the next round."
Also, players and staff have been careful to avoid mosquito bites, particularly from the aedes aegypti, the carrier of the chikungunya virus.
Meanwhile, Dominican Republic started with a 7-0 thumping of hapless St Lucia yesterday.