The Jamaican dream!
US-born McLure favours the black, green and gold
BOCA CHICA, Dominican Republic — Her love for the game is without question. Her expressed desire to continue representing Jamaica and help the senior team to qualify for the 2015 Women's FIFA World Cup appears unwavering.
Nicole McLure, the 24-year-old Reggae Girlz goalkeeper, is part of the squad competing in Group Five of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifiers in the Dominican Republic.
Success for the black, green and gold and the pride of representing her family at the sport she loves seems to be just about all she cares about.
"I love football so playing and representing my family and the great nation was always a dream of mine. It's an honour and a privilege, like a dream come true, really. I'm very excited just being here," McLure told the Jamaica Observer.
Seen as a bright prospect and the consummate professional, there was always the possibility of playing for the United States, but a peek into her childhood tells a story.
Born and bred in New York to Jamaican parents, she claims the little 'Rock' was always her first pick.
"I've always felt more Jamaican than American growing up," she said.
"I love my family and I look to represent them so this is like paying homage to them."
Playing for Ostersund club, based north of Stockholm in Sweden, since April of this year and fortified by prior experience in Iceland and in Switzerland, McLure said a natural proficiency with her hands paved the way to her rise in goalkeeping.
"I started playing football when I was eight and started keeping when I was nine. Everybody keeps when they're young, but I just stuck with it. My first sport was basketball and I was always better with my hands and I always felt more comfortable with my hands."
She was part of the Jamaica team which fell at the CONCACAF stage of Under-20 World Cup qualifying several years ago.
That disappointment, McLure believes, offered vital lessons.
"Unfortunately, we didn't make it out of the CONCACAF stage when we lost to Costa Rica and Canada in 2008. We have learnt from our mistakes, it's a different team and a different mentality. Everything has reached maturity now," she said.
On Friday, Jamaica thumped St Lucia 14-0 as the custodian enjoyed a relaxed afternoon between the sticks. The Reggae Girlz will win the three-team group once they can avoid defeat to hosts Dominican Republic.
The group winner is assured of a spot in the CFU Women's Cup Finals in Trinidad & Tobago in August. From there, CONCACAF qualifying and a possible place at the Women's World Cup beckons.
"We want to continue and then look to CONCACAF and the World Cup next year," McLure declared.
"I'm very confident and I believe in this team. I believe in the [Jamaica Football Federation] administration, the players, the country, everybody."