JFF commits to programme to aid Under-14 Girlz to transition to next level

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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Jamaica's young Reggae Girlz swept all in front of them to win the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Girls' Under-14 Challenge Series held at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence last week to finish top of the four-team competition with maximum nine points.

After a shaky start against Martinique on Monday where they won 3-2, the young Girlz then defeated the Dominican Republic 4-2 on Wednesday in a much improved performance before outgunning Bermuda 6-1 in their final game on Friday.

The entire group of players was representing the country for the first time and a few of them took the opportunity to impress over the week-long tournament.

Three of the players who stood out were Natoya Atkinson, Tiny Seaton and Dannique Wilson.

Atkinson, who had an excellent season in the high school girls' competition for Denham Town High, impressed in the centre forward position, leading the team with five goals.

Seaton, who had the privilege of leading the team out against Bermuda, proved her quality on the right wing for Jamaica and also showed that she has a knack for scoring goals. She revelled in being given the captain's armband on Friday.

“It meant a lot to be given the responsibility to captain the team. Playing in this tournament will help me to move on to the next level in football,” she exclaimed.

Wilson, who plays through the centre of the park, also wore the captain's armband and showed she wasn't afraid of responsibility, especially from the penalty spot.

These three, along with a few others, certainly represent the future of Jamaica's women's football, and in turn, President of the Jamaica Football Federation Michael Ricketts has promised to ensure that their talents will not go to waste.

“After qualifying for the World Cup in 2019 the JFF is certainly intent on crafting a path for our young, female players and this is just a start of a number of activities,” said the football boss.

“It certainly wasn't by accident that it (the tournament) was here... we lobbied for this and we were successful in having it here. From all indications, it was indeed a success and I want to congratulate the CFU, the JFF and all those persons who were responsible for organising this event,” Ricketts added.

The JFF president is adamant that hosting the the group was the correct decision and accepted that it is the responsibility of the organisation that he leads to ensure the players do not slip through the cracks.

“The girls were very entertaining, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves and this is certainly a step in the right direction, and this will auger well for the future of our young Reggae Girlz.

“The JFF must do their best (as) these are 14-year-olds and under so we must keep in contact with the schools, keep these girls focused and ensure that as a unit, the core of this group must stay together... the JFF must ensure through its coach and the technical department that we continue to nurture these athletes,” Ricketts said.

While refusing to point to anyone in particular, Ricketts admitted to being impressed by some of the players.

“I was very impressed with what I have seen and the onus is now on us to keep them together. There were some players that really stood out in my mind,” he noted.

The senior Reggae Girlz, who have had a busy summer with their inaugural appearance in the FIFA Women's World Cup, which was quickly followed by the Pan American Games, will be in action again next month when they begin their quest for Olympic qualification to the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.

“The next big event is our Women's Olympic qualifiers and that will also be held here. Four countries will converge. It starts on September 30 and ends on October 8. This will be a FIFA window so all our top players will be available. It should be extremely entertaining and we are looking forward to it,” said Ricketts.

The four countries that will do battle with Jamaica next month are Cuba, St Lucia, Barbados and the US Virgin Islands.