'This is just the beginning!'

Striker 'Bunny' Shaw says Reggae Girlz will get better with time

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Much was expected of Reggae Girlz striker Khadija "Bunny" Shaw heading into the Fifa Women's World Cup in France.

While she did not get on the score sheet as she is accustomed to, the prolific player was once again instrumental in ensuring that their debut campaign was a success in its own way.

The early exit from the group stage without a point was by no means what Shaw and her teammates had hoped for, but their resilience, passion and commitment through circumstances and even while staring defeat in the face was enough to capture the hearts and eyes of the watching world.

Throughout their campaign, the Reggae Girlz received numerous messages and videos of encouragement from Jamaicans locally and abroad and even those in the international media.

That, along with the 49th-minute strike by substitute Havana Solaun in a 1-4 defeat to Australia in their final Group C game at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble, was among the positives for Shaw, who believes the world is yet to see the best of her young Reggae Girlz team.

The 22-year-old assisted the goal by playing a delightful pass through to Solaun who rounded custodian Lydia Williams and tucked away a left-footed effort between two backtracking defenders..

“This is just the beginning,” declared Shaw.

“I think we are the youngest team in the World Cup and to come out here and to give the effort and work for each other is a great feeling and it's something that we can look back on and say we were here and we achieved this, and we actually scored a goal.

“So that is something that we can look back on as a positive... now we have to keep having camps, keep having competitive international friendly games because that is what it is going to come to and that is what it takes to gain the experience,” the towering striker added.

Like many of her teammates and even Head Coach Hue Menzies , Shaw believes their presence, and by extension performances against three of the world's best teams in sixth-ranked Australia, 10th-ranked Brazil and 16th-ranked Italy, should be enough to earn them more respect and, more importantly, funding going forward.

“With the little resources that we had leading up to the World Cup, we stuck together as a team, we dealt with adversities and we didn't let that deter us from our goal to qualify for the World Cup. And we came here, and as I said, you could see the lack of experience killed us, but as I said, if we keep going and get caps under our belt, this team can be a good team to come,” Shaw noted.

The 53rd-ranked Reggae Girlz certainly earned the respect of their opponents despite also losing 0-3 and 0-5 to Brazil and Italy, respectively.

If there is doubt, then ask Australia's midfielder Katrina Gorry.

“The Jamaican team is really strong and they had quite a few good players up top that can do damage in transition, so we knew we had to be on guard going forward and also in defence. We definitely weren't surprised when they scored, they have quality players in their team and we knew that we needed to be switched on,” Gorry shared.

All in all, Shaw, who will now turn her attention to a professional debut with French club FC Bordeaux, took a lot away from their campaign, particularly the fact that they had their first-ever goal at the global showpiece.

“It (the goal) shows that we can compete with these teams, but unfortunately we went down in the first half and we went in and spoke about it and said let's push and try to get a goal. The goal was almost like we tied the game that was just the feeling we had, we knew that it was coming and we are just grateful for it.

“So, it was a good experience, we all know that World Cup is about the experience and at the end of the day it is not the results that we really wanted, but we came out here and we put the effort in and worked hard for each other,” Shaw reasoned.

“It is very unfortunate that it took us two games to get going and again it comes down to experience, these teams have been playing all year round, they have been in camps and stuff like that. So I mean we knew that it was coming, but as I said it's very unfortunate that it took us two games to actually get going.”

The Jamaicans will be missing Shaw for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, next month due to her professional obligations.