Sport

The long, hard road back for Trudi Carter

Reggae Girl recollects suffering as injury threatened to derail World Cup dream

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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The sum of Trudi Carter's character should never be measured solely by her narrow, 5ft 2in frame.

Football ability aside, the Reggae Girlz midfielder/striker deceptively embodies a will, determination, hunger and passion that betray her unimposing physical stature.

Carter has carried the proverbial “cross” in a months-long battle to recover from a knee injury that threatened to end her World Cup dream.

The player from AS Roma of Italy's premiership was sidelined since November with a meniscus tear to her right knee, but after two surgeries and more than three months of rehabilitation work in Italy, she delightfully declares: “It's good to be back!”

“After being out for so long, I just want to say I am at 100 per cent and just ready to represent my country at the highest level again,” Carter noted.

The player's road to recovery was not only agonisingly depressing and emotionally draining, but a desperate race against time to be fit so she could still stand a chance of making the World Cup-bound squad of 23 players to France.

Carter, who played an instrumental role in Jamaica's historical qualifying to the Fifa Women's World Cup, recounts her ordeal as she battled prolonged absence from the field of play and anxiety that her World Cup aspirations may have been over before the first ball is kicked in the June 7-July 7 tournament.

“It was really frustrating, being out for so long and the first time being away from football… it was really hard. A lot of dark times and a lot of sadness, but I stuck it out by staying strong and focused; and I was just determined to get through it.

“I never cried so much in my life, almost every night. I did two surgeries on my knee. I actually did one in December and one in January, and I kept wondering if I was ever going to make it back in time for the World Cup because playing in the World Cup, has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” Carter told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

The midfielder, who had a fruitful spell at the USA's Navarro College, shared that her mother Lucille Hamilton and her firm belief in God kept her sane and motivated on her nightmarish journey.

“I have to give all praise and thanks to my mom, who is my hero, and of course God — because it was the two of them who were there to take me through.

“My mom would tell me how many times she prayed and cried, but I am just blessed to be back and being able to play again — and I just want to thank my mom and God for getting me back on the field,” Carter said, her voice trailing off with a sombre tone.

The 24-year-old, who is seen as possessing all-round football assets, noted that support outside of her family circle also served to help her in the recuperative process.

“The support system was really amazing as everybody was there for me from the coach down to the staff, the players and even the fans… they were there supporting me mentally and emotionally knowing that I was far away from home where I had no family member; it was just me.

“But it was really great having a Jamaican teammate (Allyson Swaby) back in Roma, and she helped me [with] a lot by keeping me up to date what's going on whenever she goes to camp, so she was amazing in that process as well,” Carter said.

The Jamaican, who hails from the tough inner-city community of Arnett Gardens, is in Jamaica for the ongoing camp in preparation for Sunday's friendly international against Panama, the team the Girlz defeated to book their spot in France.

“Trudi is definitely game-ready even though I have not played a competitive game as yet. And if I do get to play in the Panama game it would be my first since coming back from injury, but I have been playing with my teammates (at Roma).

“I am actually looking forward to playing in this game and, as I said before, the last time I played competitively was November 24 last year, so I am looking to play in the Panama game to see where my strengths and weaknesses are and to see where I need to improve,” Carter reasoned.

Even though Carter's quality is well established and her role in the qualification campaign duly recognised, she is aware that does not guarantee her a spot in Hue Menzies's final squad of 23.

“I don't think it will be hard for a coach to overlook me, because the team is playing well and you have other players who play in the same position who can impact the game the way I do as well.

“Still, I think I have done enough, but at the end of the day it's up to the coaches and I don't think I am guaranteed a spot after being away for so long. And I think the way the team is playing right now, I don't think anyone is guaranteed a spot — no one is safe —so if I play on Sunday, let's see what the coaches think after that,” she stated.

Carter, who also had a stint in the US with the South Florida Bulls, says coming back to the Reggae Girlz fold feels, in a weird way, like her first time.

“A lot has happened since I last played and the last time I played was actually in the World Cup qualifiers in October so, to be honest, I actually feel like a new player. I feel like am here on a trial but I like it, because I think it will help me to work harder for my spot,” Carter noted.

The ball handler, with a penchant for the attack, says she has no great expectations — all things considered — other than making the select 23 to scenic and magical France.

“I am not thinking about the starting eleven or even coming off the bench…being in that 23 going to France is all I am thinking about. I just want to be on that plane going to France, and everything else will fall into place,” said Carter.


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