The Reggae Girlz show the way
Jamaica's Deneisha Blackwood (right) fights for the ball with France's Eugenie Le Sommer during the 2023 Women's World Cup Group F football match at Sydney Football Stadium in Australia on Sunday. (Photos: AFP)

Such is the inclination towards homemaking — not least childbearing and caring — far too many women take a back seat when it comes to management, be it public sector governance, business, et al.

That's the case not just in Jamaica but everywhere.

However, in this country, women have long been recognised as the backbone of our society. Their self-belief, fortitude, commitment, ambition, and relentless drive have repeatedly made the difference between success and failure for their children, their men, and themselves.

Those characteristics also consistently come to the fore for those who choose to lead in their communities, organisations, and at national level.

Sunday's heroic performance by the 43rd-ranked Reggae Girlz against fifth-ranked France at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia reminded us of another characteristic of our women, without which our society would surely be in shambles.

We speak of the national team's great discipline in cold rain, at what is now the height of the southern hemisphere winter.

In playing to a 0-0 draw with France, and in the process earning Jamaica's first-ever point in a FIFA Women's World Cup Finals tournament, the Reggae Girlz showed all the previously mentioned qualities we fully expected.

They ran non-stop, scrapped for every ball, and gave it their all.

But in the end it was their tactical discipline, especially in defence — never losing focus, always sticking to the pre-game plan of stifling the opposition while trying to score on the break — which carried the day.

It meant that in defence the Jamaicans had to minimise space and time for their opponents, staying as close to them as possible, while supporting each other — always playing for each other — for the entire 90 minutes.

The imposing presence of their highly talented captain and striker Ms Khadija "Bunny" Shaw up front, relentlessly harrying opposing defenders, ensured the French dared not over-commit in attack for fear of exposing themselves at the back.

The unfortunate dismissal of Ms Shaw late in the game means the Girlz will be without her for what they will surely see as a must-win game against Panama on July 29 as they eye the possibility of advancing to the second round.

The upside is that, all being well, the talismanic Ms Shaw will be fresh and available for the final group game against Brazil on August 2.

Head coach, Mr Lorne Donaldson, and his support staff are to be commended for their planning and strategising as well as their communication skills in getting the message across to their players on how best to execute.

Most of all, the players deserve high praise for all the qualities we have highlighted here, alongside what player-of-the-match, the redoubtable defender Ms Deneisha Blackwood, described as their "hard work".

That attitude, approach, and work ethic must be on show again and again, as the Reggae Girlz aim for the next round — an achievement that would be of titanic proportions.

But whatever happens from here, all Jamaica say thanks to our football ambassadors for showing, by their example on Sunday, the value of characteristics with which all great societies are built.

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