Having waited three years for a league to call their own, some of the country's female prospects are now ready for a breakout season as the curtain lifts on the Jamaica Women's Premier League today.
A number of former national representatives and fresh faced cast of protagonists are expected to be on show in four games across three venues to mark the league's return since 2019.
One of those contest — the 1:00 pm Zone B clash between Vere United and Real MoBay — will serve as a curtain-raiser for the men's league fixture between Vere United and Waterhouse FC at the Wembley Centre of Excellence in Clarendon.
The other Zone B game to involve Cavalier against Royal Lakes at 3:30 pm will be the feature encounter of a double-header at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence. It will be preceded by a Zone A meeting of Fraziers Whip and Olympic Garden at 1:30 pm.
Elsewhere, newcomers Baptist Alliance of St Thomas and Springers United, situated in St James, are set to square off in the other Zone A game at Paul Bogle High School at 3:00 pm.
Meanwhile, St Mary-based Rangers FC from Zone A and another newcomer, Mile Gully in Zone B, will be idle today.
Annalecia Johnson, 18, who will line up for St Catherine-based outfit Royal Lakes, is among the young prospects hoping to make a mark in the league from which could come national call-up.
Former Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hue Menzies and his successor Lorne Donaldson have avidly advocated for the league's return, as they consistently voiced their discontent at not being able to consider local-based players for selection.
The Girlz will be making their second-consecutive appearance at the World Cup, having debuted in 2019 in France. They face a daunting Group F alongside France and Brazil, with their other opponent to come from February's intercontinental play-offs.
"Personally, I am both excited and nervous about the game on Sunday, my expectation obviously is to win, but at the same time enjoy the experience and play the game the way we know how and hopefully make a good impression and possibly get invited to the national team," Johnson told the Jamaica Observer.
"Our preparation has been challenging in terms of getting everyone on the same days to train, but we did work with what we have and so hopefully all our hard work will shine through our game on Sunday," she added.
Meanwhile, Rena Gordon, who was a staple for Jamaica's Under-17 and Under-20 teams, also expressed her excitement about the league's return.
For the Cavalier striker, it's an opportunity to possibly force her way back into the senior setup, after last donning the national colours in the Caribbean phase of Olympic Qualifiers on home soil in 2019.
"We have been waiting awhile for its return and now that we have an opportunity to play, I am even more motivated now to work hard and do my best to possibly work my way back into the national team. So it's just about going out there and doing what I can to make a mark and also help my team to win the league," Gordon said.
The 10-team league which is expected to last six months — keeping with Fifa requirements — will see teams playing home and away fixtures at select venues, leading into the quarter-finals and semi-finals which will also be two-way fixtures. The final is set to be contested in May 2023.
Winners will pocket $500,000 and the runners-up $300,000 and $200,000, respectively. The fourth-placed team will be awarded $160,000 for their efforts.
Teams will also contest a knockout competition scheduled for a February 18 start.
— Sherdon Cowan
1:30 pm: Fraziers Whip vs Olympic Gardens @ UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence
3:00 pm: Baptist Alliance vs Springers United @ Paul Bogle High School
1:00 pm: Vere United vs Real Mobay @ Wembley Centre of Excellence
3:30 pm: Cavalier vs Royal Lakes @ UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence