'Buju' finds niche with Reggae Girlz

Physical trainer Jason Henry relishes working with female footballers

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

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TO say that 2018 was a very motivating year for Jason “Buju” Henry would be an understatement.

The young physical trainer had, throughout the year been heavily tasked with fuelling a number of teams, including Manning Cup champions Kingston College to the historic World Cup-bound Senior Reggae Girlz team, and he came through with flying colours on every occasion.

Despite the overwhelming task to keep the players on the field in terms of injury prevention and to have them perform at their optimum, Henry is relishing every bit of the experience in his short career.

“I am really enjoying it. I have being working with national teams for just over two years — first with the national U-17 males as a massage therapist and then I was introduced to the U-20 female team by coach Xavier [Gilbert] as the trainer and from there on my life as a physical trainer changed.

“Over time the players of the respective teams got comfortable with me and we developed a good working relationship. So it has been great experience, but it requires me to be on my toes at all times to provide services to them both on and off the field,” Henry told the Jamaica Observer.

With his energy, passion, drive and grit, Henry, a graduate and now coach at GC Foster College, was able to fuel the respective teams he worked with, as he is always required to be well positioned to help the players perform at their peak.

However, it was the introduction to fitness coach Will Hitzelberger, through senior Reggae Girlz head coach Hue Menzies and his assistant Lorne Donaldson, that the 27-year-old described as the defining moment of his career so far.

This, he said, allowed him to spread his wings as a physical trainer as he played a crucial role in the Reggae Girlz's qualification to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in France.

“It has been amazing working with the (Senior Reggae Girlz) technical staff. coach Lorne and coach Hue saw me work with the U-20 girls and gave me opportunity to meet, work and study with best condition coach I have ever met in my life [Will Hitzelberger] and I just blend in and here we are heading to France.

“Will is the best I ever worked with as a conditioning coach and I say that without second thoughts. But all the coaches, including Hubert Busby and Andrew Price, helped mold me and assisted me through this experience, because I was alone as both trainer and massage therapist at the CAC Games,” Henry shared.

He continued: “This has really changed my life as a trainer and now I am one of the best in the island, not just as a trainer but also as strength and conditioning coach. The girls are great to work with; they are best.”

Looking ahead, the Spalding High School alumnus and former player of Premier League club Humble Lion is hoping to expand his knowledge of the sport as a busy schedule for both club and country awaits.

“I just want to keep the hard work going. I know it is going to be a tall order for 2019 because the expectation is greater, so I am hoping to do well at the World Cup — defending my Manning Cup with KC and also hoping to help the U-17 and U-20 Girlz to the World Cup as well.

“I am also hoping to do well at the PanAm Games as a top three finish would be good and most importantly trying to keep all our players fit and healthy, which is what counts most,” Henry ended.

— SHERDON COWAN

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