'Bunny' goes pro

'Bunny' goes pro

Reggae Girlz striker could ply trade in Europe or Asia this summer

Sunday, March 03, 2019

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Khadija “Bunny'”Shaw has no real preference as to where she wants to start her professional career in the summer. But one thing is for certain, she is bound to land a decent contract.

Despite still having a couple of months left in school, the prolific Reggae Girlz striker has already started her preparations for transition to the professional level, having inked a deal with the respected A&V Sports at Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Thursday.

The agency, which is one of the most influential in women's football, currently represents over 50 international players in 13 different countries, and has completed over 60 transactions in the last 18 months.

Shaw, a standout forward for the Tennessee Volunteers and one of the most exciting prospects out of the NCAA this year, has now joined that list to be represented and supported by A&V Sports in all her on-and-off field pursuits.

The 22-year-old, who chose not to enter the 2019 NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) Draft in order to broaden the scope of her possibilities and look at options overseas, is expected to make her professional debut this summer in Europe or Asia.

She is confident that she made the right call in sealing, the deal with A&V Sports managing partner Alan Naigeon, who also represents women's football phenoms Ada Hegerberg, Caitlin Foord, Kadeisha Buchanan and Samantha Kerr.

Norwegian professional Hergerberg is the first recipient of the Women's Ballon d'Or, while Australian Kerr was the 2017 NWSL MVP.

“They reached out to me and, after doing some research on the company, I decided to sign with them — and I am excited to start the process as I get prepared to enter the professional world.

“This is huge for me because, at this point of my career, I feel like I deserve to be playing at one of the highest levels so that I can be better as a player — and I think A&V Sports can help me to get to that point,” Shaw told the Jamaica Observer.

“It is yet to be decided which club I will represent, but my options are open at the moment. I just want to ensure that I am happy and comfortable. A&V Sports is a very good company, as they are representing a lot of top female football players also. So having them represent me, I feel like I will be starting at a good point in my career,” the recent Guardian Footballer of the Year added.

During the NCAA season, Shaw logged 27 goals and 11 assists in 32 games with the University of Tennessee and is sure to leave a legacy in Knoxville as one of the most decorated players in the programme's history.

Wherever her professional path leads Shaw is fully prepared for the challenge, as she has been working assiduously and is passionate about making her mark for both club and country this summer.

Having reaped tremendous success with her physicality and quickness in reading the game, the towering player is also expected to be on the radar as one of the most exciting young players to watch at the Fifa Women's World Cup in France, scheduled for June 7 to July 7.

Shaw, who used football as her vehicle to overcome violence and tragedy in her life, will be making an historic debut at the global showpiece event, with her 53rd-ranked Reggae Girlz team that will be the first from the Caribbean to do so.

“It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and consistency to get me this far. So no matter how well you have been doing over the years, the aim is to always try to improve on that, because there is room for improvement.

“So I don't intend to do anything different from what I am doing right now; I just want to continue working hard and try to be the best version of myself,” Shaw asserted.

“But at the end of the day, football is a team sport and without my teammates I wouldn't be where I am today. We have been growing in confidence and I know when we get to France we are going to do our very best to make our coaches, family and Jamaica proud — and continue to inspire those young players who will come after us,” she reasoned.

Meanwhile, Naigeon expressed delight about having Shaw, who represented Jamaica at every level starting with stints in the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20, all at the same time, when she was just 14 years old, on board.

“We are thrilled to have Bunny (Khadija Shaw) join our group of exceptional players at TeamAV. Bunny has all the tools to become one of the most exciting strikers of the future, and we look forward to assisting her throughout this journey,” Naigeon noted.

The agency recently made headlines with the transfer of USWNT Hailie Mace to Melbourne City FC and FC Rosengard, as well as Alana Cook to Paris Saint-German, while Canadian Buchanan signed for Olympique Lyonnais out of college in January 2017, after being named the best young player at the 2015 World Cup.

Another Canadian, Janine Beckie of Manchester City, is also part of the A&V client roster.

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