U-17 coach pleads for support of World Cup-chasing Girlz

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, November 21, 2015

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Amidst the excitement of Jamaica's Under-17 Reggae Girlz's progress to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, Coach Lorne Donaldson has joined the call for increased financial support for the female programmes.


Donaldson, who heads the Under-17 programme, though elated with the team's 1-0 semi-final win over rivals Trinidad & Tobago on Friday, believes more needs to be done to pool a team together ahead of a crucial tournament.


The young Reggae Girlz team -- which boasts eight overseas-based players, five of whom were making debuts -- enjoyed their best performance of the tournament when securing victory.


They are scheduled to face Haiti today in the final at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel at 7:30 pm (6:30 pm Jamaica time) to be crowned Caribbean Football Union (CFU) champions.


The Girlz have already secured a spot in the CONCACAF round of qualifiers to be contested in Grenada in February where they will bid for one of two spots to the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan 2016.


"I am very happy for the girls because they showed up here not knowing each other and we have one objective... to put this group together and get ourselves into CONCACAF. That was our aim and we are right there. The sky is the limit for this group if we can get them in the right environment for training," Donaldson told the Jamaica Observer in a post-game interview.


"Obviously, we need some financial support. I would love to come to Jamaica and work with the girls down there because we don't want to turn this into an overseas-based team. But as you can see, if we didn't have a lot of these [overseas] girls because of their fitness level and their football intelligence, we would have a problem," he added.


Donaldson notes that Jamaica is blessed with talent; it's more importantly how we harness and develop that talent.


"So we need to make sure that our programmes in Jamaica are growing, because there is talent down there and now we have to develop the talent, and then we will have a good mixture of overseas-based and local-based player," he continued.


And with former St Jago standout and Under-20 Captain Khadijah Shaw and Deneisha Blackwood out of Excelsior, among a number of local-based players who have transitioned into overseas colleges, Donaldson stressed that their motive is bigger than just football.


"What we do is bigger than football [as] we want to get these girls into college and the only reason why I did this is because they are 17 years old and I can help them. We can help them with colleges and make their life better so that when they reach mid-twenties they have a college degree. If they want to still play for Jamaica afterward, then that is also a bonus," he noted.


"So we have a lot of overseas-based girls that are going to play college soccer and that is what we want for Jamaica. So if they [investors] can step in, it will be great because it takes a lot of money for a programme like this to be sustained. We are volunteer coaches... we volunteer our time because we love the country, we love the girls, and we know there is a potential for them to do well in football," Donaldson ended.



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