To achieve success in football, a great level of dedication, discipline, and training is required. As a result, many athletes find it difficult to manage their personal lives and families alongside their football careers. Tough decisions have to be made.
Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girl Cheyna Matthews on Friday announced her retirement from professional football, citing the importance of her family.
The 29-year-old Matthews, who is married to National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jordan Matthews, is mother to three sons.
“Ultimately, it is a decision that’s best for my family at this time, with my kids getting older and how much I’ve been away from my family,” Matthews told the Jamaica Observer.
“There are no club teams in the market where my family decided to live. Football is so universal and has the ability to bring people together, no matter where they are from. It’s uniting but it’s time for my family now,” she further stated.
The American-born Matthews, who signed with the Chicago Red Stars in March, agreed to play one more game for her club before hanging up her boots for good. She was to earn her final cap on Sunday when the Red Stars welcomed OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) at the SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Matthews represented the United States at the Under-23 level in 2015.
She was eligible to play for Jamaica through her mother, who was born in Portland. In January 2019, Matthews was called up by the Reggae Girlz for the first time, joining the team in a training camp to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Jamaica women team’s historic first appearance at the tournament. She made her debut in a 1-0 friendly win against Chile on February 28, 2019.
She was selected in the Jamaica squad for the 2019 World Cup and made her tournament debut in the team’s opening match against Brazil in Grenoble, France. The Girlz were eliminated at the group stage.
Matthews was also a part of the Jamaican squad that went to the 2023 Women’s World Cup which was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
During the World Cup Down Under, the Reggae Girlz earned goalless draws with France and Brazil. A 1-0 victory over Concacaf rivals Panama ensured progression from the group stage before they were eliminated 0-1 by Colombia in the round of 16.
Matthews’ last appearance for the Reggae Girlz came last month when the Jamaicans lost 1-4 on aggregate to reigning Olympic champions Canada in a home-and-away tie which erased their dream of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Games.
“My time with the Reggae Girlz kept my love for the game alive. It was an empowering experience, having faced so much adversity and to still accomplish what we did is astonishing.
“Making it to the round of 16 at the World Cup was the proudest moment of my career. Small-island girls being recognised as one of the top 16 teams in the world was amazing. I can tell you, this is an indescribable happiness with some of my closest friends over the years,” said Matthews, who scored eight goals for the Reggae Girlz.
“I will be involved in the game still, [in] some capacity. I want to further my education first â€” in the sports law and business realm, specifically,” she said.