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Menzies cops Concacaf Women's Coach of the Year award

Deputy Sport Editor

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

USA-based Hue Menzies says the Concacaf Women's Coach of the Year award, the first for a Jamaican, is a shared honour for his technical team and the country on a whole.

The Florida Kraze Krush executive director was gracious yesterday on learning that he had a won the award, powered no doubt by his astute leadership of the Reggae Girlz to their historic qualification to the Fifa Women's World Cup to be staged in France from June 7-July 7.

“It really feels good to be recognised, and while it was an individual award, I embrace it as a team award and a tribute to all Jamaicans and my team of Lorne Donaldson, Hubert Busby, Will Hitzelburger, Andrew Price and others, who have put in long hours of hard work in making it work, often time at great personal sacrifice.

“So we are happy for the recognition and we know as we go along we will be picking up more individual and team awards,” Menzies added.

In addition to his award, Jamaica's female footballers received the Outstanding Performance of the Year, a recognition that spanned both sexes.

Striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw made a big impact on the annual awards, by being named in the Women's Best Eleven along with 16-year-old teammate Jody Brown, plus being runner-up to the USA's Alex Morgan for Female Player of the Year.

Shaw was third for Best Goal of the Year behind Club America's Joe Corona and Alan Pulido of CD Guadalajara, both strikes coming in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. Shaw's effort came in a group match of the Concacaf Women's Championship.

“It just tells you where hard work and dedication can take you, and what's more amazing, is that “Bunny” and Jody are so humble, but they have an amazing work ethic and a strong commitment to cause… and also these are two young women whose God-given talent is taking them places, but getting them into the USA very early, was key to their growth,” said Menzies in paying tribute to his players.

The veteran coach, who has guided males and females in his 33 years in the dugout, shared with the Jamaica Observer that the road to success had its fair share of bumps and potholes.

“As a team, we committed and all made sacrifice with limited resources, but we believed in the cause and kept going, and the end result is that we qualified for the World Cup… but qualifying for the World Cup is one thing, what we need to do is to ensure that we sustain this success through all the age groups as we go forward.

“There are times when we got frustrated because coming from an environment that is structured and professional and to come into a situation that was not always in keeping with those standards was not easy, but we were doing all that we did for the right reasons, and that was important to keep us going,” said Menzies.

He said one of the good things about the letdowns along the way, is that many of them were spun into positives.

“Along the way we took some disappointments and used them to energise us. For example, when the local Premier League folded, we took the opportunity to get a lot of the girls into the States and that helped them to develop,” he noted.

Menzies shared that he got involved with women's football in Jamaica after being approached by Reggae Girlz ambassador, Cedella Marley.

“Cedella Marley said she needed some help with the Jamaica women's programme and I answered the call because I didn't only want to coach a women's team, but more importantly, I wanted to change the perception to the female game… and it is very satisfying to see how people are now viewing women's football, which is great for the country,” he recalled.

Menzies said that all is in place for a one-week “assessment camp” which is to get under way today in St Ann.

“Thanks to the Minister of Sports Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who has made sure everything is in place and her support for the girls has been second to none…we are grateful for her input,” Menzies concluded.

Meanwhile, The Concacaf award for Male Player of the Year went to Mexico's Hirving Lozano.

The annual awards, which began in 2013 and are being presented for the sixth time, recognise players, coaches and referees at all age levels, who have excelled in Concacaf and Fifa-sanctioned tournaments involving the Confederation's national teams and clubs.

The awards are presented following an equally-weighted vote among national team head coaches, national team captains, experts from the media and millions of fans.