Reggae Girl Ashleigh Shim broadens football horizons

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — After picking up an injury during Jamaica's failed Olympic qualifying bid in 2015, Ashleigh Shim has now returned at full throttle to bolster the talented Senior Reggae Girlz cast.

Shim, who was born in Kingston before migrating to Jacksonville, Florida, with parents Tracy and Mark, is a triple-threat in the Reggae Girlz set up. She is pacy, skilful and has a tenacious desire to succeed.

With those characteristics making her a dangerous opponent, it was easy for Shim to make the necessary transition from high school to Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, where she studied Sports and Fitness: Pre-Physical Therapy before being drafted to Jamaica's women's programme. However, she has been around international soccer since the age of 15 when she represented the Cayman Islands in the 2009 Under-17 World Cup Qualifiers. This courtesy of her grandmother who is Caymanian. Since representing at the Olympic qualifying tournament in 2015, Shim then transitioned to the professional level, where she plied her trade for VFL Sindelfingen in the German Bundesliga Second League, as well as in Sweden for FC Djurshoom in the Tier Three League.

The lethal winger is now overwhelmed that she is currently on the path to leaving somewhat of a legacy in a game she first played at around age eight.

“I never thought that I would represent Jamaica, but I know I always wanted to play professional football since I was a kid. So to even be here now and to have been a part of this team before it really is an honour and a pleasure for me and so I was excited and it felt good when I was just invited to that first camp in 2015 to represent my country,” She told the Jamaica Observer.

“It has been very good so far just seeing the organisation of the trainings and the coaching staff and the players individually. I think that we have grown and it is not like we have been training together every other month like these other countries do. “So I think for us to be able to grow this much from the last time we saw each other which was two-and-a-half years ago and have such good connection with each other and the positive mentality moving forward is going to be really important for us,” she added. Besides her impressive on field exploits, Shim's unwavering love for the game saw her venturing into the business aspect of it, having founded the Trained2Go Soccer Academy. The 24-year-old's desire is to help players from all skill levels and economic backgrounds use an affordable and high quality private training platform to improve their game. Shim's passion for helping players improve on skills, is all based on her own experience in making the various transitions and as such she enjoys sharing her knowledge of the game. “The transition is not what many people think it would be, it is a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of commitment. For instance, when I was in university I had to wake up at 5:00 am and do a lift, then class and then practise and then class again, and at night maybe you are doing something on your own just to make yourself better. “So I really like what I do, and to be honest, I am not sure about representing club anytime soon,” the USSF National D licensed coach shared. With that said, Shim, who played an instrumental role in Jamaica's 13-0 and 3-0 victories over Guadeloupe and Martinique, respectively, had high expectations for the team going forward as it advanced from the first round of the CONCACAF Caribbean Women's Qualifiers. The Reggae Girlz came out Group B winners with a superior goal difference over Haiti following their 2-2 stalemate in the decisive encounter at Stade Sylvio Cator on Sunday. Both teams ended on seven points.

They will now turn their attention to the final round of qualifiers scheduled for August 25 to September 2. “I am just trying to really take care of my body and just do what the coaches have asked me to do as a player and just continue to play my role and take responsibility for what I do on the field,” she noted. “I think that we have the personnel and a very good coaching staff and I think we can really make moves in women's football. There could be tremendous opportunities for us to showcase ourselves as players but I think the right help of the (Jamaica Football) Federation will be very necessary and important for us,” Shim ended.

— Sherdon Cowan

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