Young Reggae Girls depart for CONCACAF Under-15 Championships
JAMAICA'S national Under-15 female football team is scheduled to leave the island today for the inaugural Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Championship set for the Cayman Islands between August 6-17.
Sixteen teams are scheduled to participate in this historic tournament and Jamaica are drawn in Group C alongside Costa Rica, Belize and Anguilla and are expected to advance.
The young Reggae Girls will open the tournament against Belize on Thursday, before tackling Anguilla on Saturday, then closing their first-round group against probably their sternest test, Costa Rica, on Monday, August 11. All games are scheduled to start at 6:30 pm Jamaican time.
Head coach Xavier Gilbert is pleased with the team's preparation to date and although he wants to win the Cup, a top four spot would be satisfying.
"Making it to the top four would be satisfactory or at least making it to the top eight because it's part of their development and the good thing about it is for them to get the necessary exposure," said Gilbert, who is the sports coordinator at Excelsior High School.
"We are hoping that most of them will be around when the Under-17 qualifiers start and they will have that level of experience which would be good for them and Jamaica," he added.
The Young Reggae Girls concluded their preparations with an impressive 5-0 mauling of Olympic Gardens senior women's team. Only two days before they whipped UWI's women 2-0.
"Most things are in place and the girls have responded well for the past three weeks. They looked good in their final practice game. They are prepared mentally and it will be the first time a lot of them are travelling and we are hoping it doesn't affect their performance," said Gilbert.
The Championship will be played in Grand Cayman which will use three venues — Truman Bodden Sports Complex, TE McField Sports Complex and Ed Bush Sports Complex, and in Cayman Brac at the Cayman Brac Sports Field.
Host country the Cayman Islands are drawn in Group A with Curacao, the Bahamas, and British Virgin Islands. Group B consists of Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Bermuda, while Canada heads Group D alongside Haiti, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
CONCACAF president Jeff Webb, the man behind the first male Under-15 Championship won by Honduras last year, is again pleased to kick-start the female edition.
"We are thrilled to be back in the Cayman Islands for what is sure to be another successful youth event," said Webb, at the announcement of the teams and fixtures for the Championship earlier this year.
"What really stands out about this tournament is the quantity of teams, the number of players who will be exposed to international competition and the development that stands to take place as a result."
The 16 teams were placed into four groups of four and will participate in round-robin play over the competition's first six match days. The top two teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals, which will take place on Wednesday, August 13. The semi-finals will be played two days later, with the winners competing in the final and the losers contesting the match for third place on Sunday, August 17.
The squad: Oneilia Yearde, Sherice Clarke (Wolmer's Girls); Rachel Walters, Shanhaine Nelson, Sydoney Clarke (St Jago High); Monique Perrier, Danae Walters (Immaculate Conception High); Tarania Clarke, Tateyana Pitter (Excelsior High); Peta-Gay Dixon (Albert Town High School); Chevelle Henry (Cockburn Garden Primary and Junior); Gabrielle Gayle (Spanish Town High School); Jody Brown (Ocho Rios High); LaTavia Russell (Hopewell High School); Tanika Davis (Jonathan Grant High School); Jamila Ashley (Meadowbrook High); Lyana Steele (Miami Palmetto Senior High, USA); Emily Caza (St Elizabeth Catholic High School, Canada).