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Christina Chang takes Reggae Girlz dream to new heights

Thursday, October 04, 2018

MCALLEN, USA — A lot has changed since Christina Chang last represented the senior Reggae Girlz team, and she is pleased with the progress.

After previously being reluctant to return to the set-up since they failed in their bid to qualify for Olympics in 2008, Chang is happy to be back to bolster the now Hue Menzies-conditioned team as they chase the World Cup dream via the Concacaf Women's Championships here.

Though the programme is not one with glitz and glamour, Chang pointed out that the improvements made are good enough encouragement for her to put her best foot forward.

In fact, her passion and dedication for sporting the black, green and gold now is so intensified that she readily takes time away from her busy schedule as an air traffic controller at Miami International to parade her skills.

“I think the team is much different now than it was back in 2008. I know it is still not where we want it to be, but it wasn't as organised back then as it is now. We didn't have an equipment manager and we didn't have a team manager to travel with us.

“And they gave use fried chicken — nothing of real nutrients that we should be putting in our bodies before we play in matches. So I am happy that improvements have been made, but with that said, we still have a long way to go,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Born in the United States to mother and father Richard and Michelle, who hail from Harbour View in East Kingston, Chang took up football by chance, but later worked her way up the ranks.

In her short but successful professional career she was considered a Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) veteran, having played for Florida Sol, California Storm, North Bay Wave, and Palm Beach United.

Chang's storied Florida Atlantic University (FAU) college career saw her rack up 17 goals and 11 assists as she occupied a place in the all -time record books for games played and assists. She was named A-Sun All Freshman team in 2003.

“I am the oldest of four, three girls and my brother, so everything my dad did I wanted to do. so he played dominos and I did also, and we would sit and give anybody six love. I went deep-sea fishing and I played ball because I was like the little boy he didn't have at the time,” Chang shared.

“So I played U-12, which is kind of late because most people start at age six. but because I was playing with my uncles and boys I was learning to play fast and aggressive and then I played in college and Vin [Blaine] saw me play and ask if I could play for the country.

“My family means everything to me and playing for Jamaica, so when I got approached to play at that time, I was ecstatic and here I am doing it again,” she added.

Despite being the oldest player in the current set-up at 33 years old, the attacking midfielder, who admires former California Storm teammate and Brazilian star Sissi, is positively ageing.

“I have a really good career in air traffic control for seven years, so I have been balancing that and football and I feel good. A lot of players asked me how do I look this good, but I told them just don't stop playing.

“The love I have for this game is second to none, and I told my doctor that eventually I need to have a child so I ask when I have to stop playing, but for now I am going to keep going because I see us winning and making it to the World Cup,” Chang noted.

As it is often said, with experience comes wisdom, and that is exactly what the cheerful player brings to the table.

The number seven-ranked Reggae Girlz are scheduled to contest Group B alongside number two-ranked Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba in this championship, a qualifier for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

“A lot of the girls are really good at motivating themselves and so I just share my past experiences with them, but they all want to be here and they are very positive in our chances. My dad used to say the ball is round and anything can happen, so we just have to train hard and go out there strong,” Chang reasoned.

“Being on the team, I want to contribute any way I can, so whether it is in the starting team or on the bench, it doesn't matter. I am just here to help in any way I can, and given my experience, I think I bring some kind of composure to the game,” ended Chang.


— Sherdon Cowan



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