Girlz striker Matthews says time away from football strengthens family bonds


Girlz striker Matthews says time away from football strengthens family bonds

Observer staff reporter

Friday, May 01, 2020

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After taking a paid leave of absence from football to spend more time with her family, Reggae Girlz and Washington Spirit forward Cheyna Matthews is now ready to get back on the ball as soon as is possible for both club and country.

Matthews, who in early March, shared that she was taking a break from the game ahead of this year's National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) season, pointed out that her decision was one of the many sacrifices required when juggling the tension of building a solid family and maintaining a professional career.

The American-born Matthews, who was a part of the historic Jamaican squad at the Fifa Women's World Cup in France last year, shares 20-month-old son Josiah with her husband, NFL free agent Jordan Matthews.

“After a very busy 2019 with moves, travel, and extensive time away from my husband and son, I felt like it was important to take a bit of 2020 to recuperate and dedicate time specifically for our family.

“Because when you have two professional athletes in a household, there are many challenges and sacrifices that need to be made and I knew that I was very much needed at home,” Matthews told the Jamaica Observer from her base in the United States.

The NWSL season was expected to kick off in April with Matthews's paid leave of absence anticipated to last until May.

However, shortly after her announcement, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought all sporting activity to a halt, providing the opportunity for Matthews to focus on her family situation without missing any preseason or competitive action.

“I think the timing of the COVID-19 restrictions back in March were interesting because the preseason was not yet in full flow, so basically I will miss no time at all when I return and the league is clear to start.

“But it was important for me to take time to settle our home life before I jumped into another long NWSL season and I had a ton of support from the Reggae Girlz staff and players,” Matthews shared.

Though uncertainty now surrounds the start of the NWSL and by extension, international football action, Matthews says her passion for training remains the same, while sharing family time outdoors, as they cope with the restrictions brought about by the health crisis.

“Our son also likes being outside so it has been good to do as a family. I think the hardest part about adjusting to this crisis is not being able to travel and see other family members and friends.

“But we have been able to get out of the house daily to go train our bodies and we've all been able to get tons of fresh air in the yard, going for bike rides and walks. So we have had undivided family time, which has been very nice,” Matthews noted.

She continued: “I've taken training very serious; I think training and staying fit is definitely a lifestyle and that is something my husband and I will continue to do far beyond the world of sports.

“I also find it very important to continue to train because it helps to prevent injuries once you are back in the rigours of high competition. Mentally and physically, there are benefits to training and I encourage everyone to be active if possible, even if only 20 minute a day.”

That said, Matthews looks ahead to her career and marriage with a sense of peace, noting that she intends to be the best she can be both on and off the field to make club, country and family proud.

Matthews has so far netted 11 goals in 46 appearances for Washington Spirit and eight goals in nine games for the Reggae Girlz.

“I still want to get better every day; stay healthy and I want to do well with club and country, inspire the youths, and be the best mother and wife I can be,” she declared.

“As it relates to the Jamaican team, it was a disappointing Olympic qualifying campaign, but of course we look forward to the next time we can get on the field together and have a better showing, ultimately qualifying for the next major tournament. So we have many things to hope for,” Matthews ended.

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