Sports

Defender Matthews breaks family tradition to chart her own course

Saturday, January 20, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – She comes from a track and field family, but Jadyn Matthews has broken the tradition by pursuing a career in football.

With her mother Lisa Quarrie, who is a Clarendon native and relative to Olympian Donald Quarrie, initially introducing her to a few other sporting disciplines in her early days, Matthews eventually developed a passion for football.

Though she never imagined representing the Jamaica Under-20 Reggae Girlz team, the bustling defender has found pleasure in her decision. Her attitude and work rate have raised the bar on not only her expectations, but also those of her family, coaches and teammates.

“My whole family consists of track runners, so me playing soccer is very different... my mom is the type to introduce me to all kinds of sports, so I started playing soccer when I was four years old, and from there, I developed a love for the sport.

“I worked my way up to club and now the Jamaica national team, so it is working out for me because I have turned out pretty good so far,” the Florida-based player told the Jamaica Observer.

“I was actually shocked because I didn't really think that I was going to make it this far, so I didn't see that (Jamaica call-up) coming. But I was really happy for the opportunity because I have always liked my Jamaican heritage more than my US heritage, so I have always preferred to represent Jamaica,” Matthews added.

Unlike most other players, the 18-year-old was not tutored in football by her father David Matthews, who is a Kingston native, and as such her now budding career was built on the three Ps – perseverance, practice and patience.

And despite being in the young Reggae Girlz set-up for a mere six months, Matthews has now developed an undying love for football and is willing to go beyond her call of duty on the field.

“It is a good experience so far; I really like the team and the type of football, so I came in and tried really hard to make the team. I have learnt a lot from the different coaches and I have made new friends and I love the country and I am hopeful that I can make it to the next level,” the Dwyer High school senior said.

“The US is more of a less family feel and it is more competitive and isolated. But in Jamaica there is more passion, more fight and more belief in the country and a will to win, and playing for a team like this will help to boost my game,” she added, given her experience in the United States Olympic Development Programme (ODP).

Obviously, Matthews, who is committed to Ivy League university Cornell situated in New York, has aspirations of transitioning to the professional level. But to do so she is aware that continued hard work with both the national team and at her club Boca United will be integral to that endeavour.

The central defender, who has a level of aggression in her style of play, is now committed to ensure that the young Reggae Girlz team has a successful tournament at the CONCACAF Women's Championships here.

“I think we are going to have a good tournament; we have played some of these teams before but none of them have seen our full teams. So we are going to go out as the under dogs and people won't see it coming, especially with our speed and with our fight and I believe we will make it to France for sure,” a confident Matthews declared.

“For me personally, I just hope to win all my individual battles, there might be some mistakes but I will try not to let them get to my head and mess up my game but just to stay focus and continue to press to achieve our main goal of going to World Cup,” she ended.

Jamaica were scheduled to kick off their campaign against Mexico at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday.

They will then square off against reigning champions United States of America (USA) tomorrow before closing the group phase against Nicaragua on Tuesday.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals where the top three teams will qualify for the Women's Under-20 World Cup to be staged in France in August.

Host Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Haiti and Canada are contesting the other group.

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