Busby says transitioning of U-17 Girlz up the ladder a key focus

Busby says transitioning of U-17 Girlz up the ladder a key focus

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 22, 2020

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Despite the cancellation of the women's Under-17 tournament, Jamaica's Head Coach Hubert Busby says he still intends to get the current crop of players together when possible to evaluate their potential to transition to the next level of the Reggae Girlz programme.

Though disappointed that the tournament has been shelved until 2022, Busby said the decision by regional football governing body Concacaf to cancel qualifiers is not surprising, given the health and safety concerns, as well as the challenges around preparation time, and the numerous obstacles to finalising the continental qualification tournaments due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Concacaf's decision came shortly after Fifa, the sport's world governing body, on Tuesday cancelled the Women's Under-20 and Women's Under-17 World Cups, after careful consideration of the feedback received by stakeholders combined with the inability to further postpone these tournaments.

“We are obviously disappointed that the U-17 girls tournament has been cancelled. However, in [light of] of the recent COVID-19 spikes globally, it is understandable, especially when you take into account the health and well-being of these young athletes. That above everything else is paramount and so we understand why that decision has been made,” Busby told the Jamaica Observer from his base in the United States.

“I think it would be good for us to still get this group together in order to evaluate the next generation of Reggae Girlz players coming through. So we would evaluate them and then continue to monitor them in their respective clubs, so as of right now that will continue and then we will go from there,” he added.

While there are currently no tournaments to look forward to, Busby said it is important that the coaching staff maintain its focus on future goals for when the pandemic subsides.

He pointed out that chief among those goals is the transitioning of players, as they continue to plot the way forward to another Fifa Women's World Cup qualification and, by extension, future success for Jamaica's women's football programme.

“I think it is very important for us to continue to plan. We don't know what is in store, but I think it is important, mentally and psychologically, to remain focused. We all know that it obviously is a very unprecedented and trying time, but it is important for us to continue to strive toward a goal,” Busby reasoned.

“So we will look to plan accordingly, currently all of our teams are inactive due to the pandemic but we continue to work diligently with regards to our game model and philosophy both on and off the field.

“Our focus also includes the grass roots level in terms of what we are looking to do collectively in Jamaica to increase the number of registered young female players. So although we are currently not on the field, the work continues to be done off the field to ensure that when the time comes we are ready to go,” said the Jamaican-born Canadian.

Prior to the outbreak, Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz and their Under-20 counterparts contested the Olympics and Under-20 World Cup qualifiers, respectively, where a number of new players came to the fore.

At least one of those players — Gabrielle Farrell — has since inked a contract in Europe, and this, Busby said, is another key component to the growth of Jamaica's women's football brand.

The number 50th-ranked Reggae Girlz, who made a historic Fifa Women's World Cup appearance in France last year, are currently fifth in the confederation.

World leaders United States, eighth-ranked Canada, Mexico ranked at 27th and 36th-ranked Costa Rica currently occupy the top four positions.

“I think that is important for the programme to move forward and I am excited that our players continue to sign contracts overseas,” the former national goalkeeper noted.


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