Busby sees growth in Reggae Girlz after successful first camp

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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AFTER wrapping up the first in a series of World Cup preparation camps on Sunday, Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz technical staff are eagerly awaiting the second to build on the momentum.

By all indications, the five-day camp served its purpose in assisting Head Coach Hue Menzies and his team to closely monitor the quality of players they are seeking to fit into respective positions in a final 23-member squad for this summer's Fifa Women's World Cup.

Menzies and his assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price, along with Hubert Busby, the goalkeeper coach, brought the curtains down on the St Ann-based camp with a squad match that was used to further identify areas which have scope for growth.

Busby, whose team lost 0-3 to the other team coached by Price in the game at Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall, pointed out that they are working to establish a strong foundation on which they can build over the next few months heading into the World Cup.

A total of 12 new players — some of whom featured for the country at the youth level — were drafted into the 32-player pool for the preparation phase, with approximately five more expected to join the party at the second camp next month.

“It is looking good so far; I think we spent the last four or five months identifying players that we need to strengthen the squad, and we got a very good core. But obviously, we feel like to achieve what we want to achieve we have to have depth in every single position, sometimes even three players deep because even the best countries in the world do that and that is what we aspire to be,” Busby told the Jamaica Observer.

Even though the pool for the next camp, scheduled to commence on February 25, is not expected to be as large, Busby believes this team, built around players who achieved the historic feat of qualifying Jamaica as the first Caribbean country for the women's global showpiece event, will develop over time as the work continues.

“The chemistry was good, we got everyone back together and it was good to see where players are. more importantly, it was a good indication in terms of where we need to go, but we are confident that we will get there.

“I think we have a month or a little more to get a really good indication of what that (team shape) looks like and that core of players that will be on the plane to France,” Busby noted.

The former national goaltender pointed to the two friendlies against 38th-ranked Chile, on February 28 and March 3, as excellent opportunities to test themselves against strong opponents, as they tweak tactics ahead of the Fifa Women's World Cup from June 7-July 7.

Goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, who missed the first camp due to injury, is expected to return for the second camp which will see the Reggae Girlz back in Jamaica for the games at National Stadium and Montego Bay Sports Complex.

The five new players, including two goalkeepers — one from Europe and the other from the United States — could also be fitted into the next pool for those games.

The Reggae Girlz will also have assignments against another high-quality opponent to be named, in Fort Lauderdale in April, after which the team will fly to England for a Scotland fixture before skipping over to France for a clash with Spain just before the World Cup kicks off.

“She (Sydney) tore a slight ligament in her thumb, nothing major, but she is in a soft cast, the x-rays came back negative so we have no doubt that she should be ready for the next camp.

“We are also looking at some other goalkeepers to bring into the mix to challenge, because at the end of the day it is about competition for places and we feel that we have some of the best goalkeepers in the region, and we have to make sure that those kids get the opportunity to represent their country at any time,” Busby reasoned.

“So we have to do some logistics in terms of getting them through and getting them here, but once they are through we look to bring them in camp and see where they are and evaluate them with the current ones we have. They have been on our radar for well over a year and a half but obviously, being professionals, they have club commitments and all those things,” he added.

Still, Busby expressed his delight about working with current goaltenders Telesha Campbell, Yazmeen Jamieson, Chris-Ann Chambers and Nicole McClure, who are all highly capable of holding their own between the sticks.

“We will definitely have three (goalkeepers) on the World Cup roster and maybe a fourth comes for the experience — you never know what can happen. But head coach Hue [Menzies] and the rest of us as a staff have these discussions every day in terms of our belief in our goalkeepers.

“I have been very open with them (the goalkeepers), [telling them] that who goes will depend on them and obviously we want to be able to make tough I know whoever gets on that plane will be able to do the job when called upon,” Busby shared.

Following Sunday's final session, the team dined at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, where they were met by Mayor of St Ann's Bay Michael Belnavis and officially prersented with replica keys to the city.

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