Willing and 'Able'

Young defender displays broad shoulders in role for U-17 Reggae Girlz

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — In football, the difference between winning and losing can boil down to a solid defence.

While goals ultimately win matches, a compact and impregnable defence wins tournaments, so it is claimed by those most knowledgeable about the sport.

All said and done, both are crucual to the defining outcome.

And Nevillegail Able is playing her part in the heart of defence as Jamaica's Under-17 Reggae Girlz chase the elusive World Cup dream.

She has been a tower of strength and looks ready to do whatever it takes to help lead her team to glory by making safe her defensive realm.

But while Able's defensive game appears her strength, she has demonstrated her abilities in the offensive part of the field as well. In the team's 7-0 beating of hosts St Vincent and the Grenadines in the first round of CFU qualifiers back in August, she assisted with three of those goals while having a few threatening shots of her own.

It's therefore safe to say by the evidence that the girl with the unusual first name is willing and 'Able' to help her team in two-way traffic — offence and defence.

And as Jamaica compete in the CFU Championship here in trying to defend their rergional title and gain a spot in the CONCACAF final tournament, much is expected of Able and she has clearly embraced the challenge, promoting the value of her role of leading from the back.

“People often look at the attackers up front as the stars of the team mainly because they are the ones who are scoring the goals, but how do they get the balls to score? From the defenders, of course, and at the same time, the defenders have to be protecting the goal, trying not to let the other team score.

“It is not an easy position to play. It is one of, if not, the most important position on the field. Defenders are the backbone of a team, possessing the grit needed to do whatever it takes to prevent the other team from scoring,” Able told the Jamaica Observer.

While recognising that defenders must be tough and uncompromising, she noted that it is equally important to have finesse and grace.

“The best defenders are aggressive and fearless [as] we aren't afraid to make strong tackles and use our bodies a lot, as you want the opposition to fear you. But at the same time we can't afford to lose our temper, causing unnecessary fouls and giving away penalties or free kicks in dangerous areas. Those things can really cost us the game,” Able explained.

She believes that it is her ability to find that delicate balance that has caught the eyes of the national coaches.

Able credited her father for her introduction to the sport.

“I got involved in playing football through my father (Neville). I saw him playing football and I asked him if I could try and he said 'Why not', and so I decided to give it a shot. And so one day when he was about to go and play football with friends, the rain began to fall and so he decided to stay in.

“We were on the veranda and it happened that we started to bounce the ball around a little and I got to like it and everything began to fall in place. I was attending basic school at the time and from that I was hooked to the sport,” she noted.

Able has come a long way since then.

“I played for Greater Portmore High School for two years before I got transferred to Excelsior in January of 2017. I now have to sit out one year at Excelsior before I can represent them in competition. I believe that my hard work, dedication and love is what got me to the national set-up.

“Every time I put on the Jamaican jersey, I always say to myself, I am playing for me and I am play for the people of Jamaica. I take my football very serious,” Able ended.

— Ruddy Allen

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