Girlz Coach Busby happy with progress after pre-tournament camp

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

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DESPITE only hosting two outdoor sessions due to intermittent rain, Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hubert Busby expressed satisfaction with how things panned out at their pre-tournament camp in Houston.

The camp, made possible with the assistance of Ambassador Cedella Marley, the Reggae Girlz Foundation and the Bob Marley Foundation, marked the first time players and the technical staff were assembling in over a year, as they commenced preparation ahead of a two-match friendly series and by extension, World Cup Qualifiers later this year.

Though the weather forced the coaching staff to alter plans it could not dampen the spirits of the 19 players, and Busby said he was extremely pleased with the positive approach and the level of commitment demonstrated by the players looking ahead to the series.

The Jamaican senior women's team, ranked 51st by Fifa, will face world champion the USA and African flag bearers Nigeria as part of US soccer 2021 Women's National Team (WNT) Summer Series, presented by AT&T 5G.

Portugal will also participate in the four-team package, but Jamaica will not engage the Europeans.

On June 10 the Girlz will cross swords with 38th-ranked Nigeria, and three days later will do battle with world number one and hosts the USA.

Both games, which are scheduled for BBVA stadium in Houston, Texas, will follow strict COVID-19 protocols.

The series marks a return to action for the Girlz since their Concacaf Olympic Games qualifiers last February.

“It is good to have our national team playing on the world stage again after such a long time away. Obviously the players come in with a really great attitude and the sessions were really good. There is good camaraderie and team spirit among the players and the work rate and mood have been good,” Busby told the Jamaica Observer.

Getting reacquainted aside, Busby and company managed to tick a couple of important preparation boxes with the players during the camp as they focused on tactical and technical aspects that they hope to perfect ahead of the crucial qualifiers.

“This is the first stage, we obviously have two more windows before November and so we have to try to see if we can get in every camp and try to figure things out ahead of that time. These games will just give us an idea of where we are with our game module and philosophy among other things we have been working on over the last year,” Busby explained.

“So overall it is just good to get some physical and technical work in. We are happy with how things are progressing at the moment and in the coming days we will up the ante ahead of the games,” he added.

Another critical component for Busby and his assistants David Gough, Xavier Gilbert and new addition Carrie Taylor, is finding the right combination of players to make up their provisional squad list for submission ahead of the qualifying campaign.

It is for that reason why Busby included five new players – Rebecca Spencer, Drew Spence, Shania Hayles, Mikayla Dayes and Satara Murray – in his 23-member squad for this series, with Under-20 representatives Peyton McNamara and Gabrielle Gayle transitioning to the senior set-up.

“These camps are more than preparation for Nigeria and USA so we are bringing players in, evaluating players and just working to see where we are at, and finding the right combinations.

“There are a lot of new faces and a lot of players matriculating from the U-20 group, so it is just a chance to see where they are at this stage against top competition. In some cases it might be said that they have been thrown out in the deep end but the experience will prove beneficial in the long term,” the tactician reasoned.

That said, Busby also welcomed the addition of sports psychologist Nicholas Powell to bolster the coaching staff which also includes physical trainer Jason Henry and Andrew Price. Price, who also coaches Premier League outfit Humble Lion, was not a part of the delegation for this camp.

Powell, who has a Master of Science Education in Kinesiology and is a certified mental performance coach with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, will work alongside Busby and his staff to provide support for the players through focus tools designed to assist the players in maximising their performances on the field.

“He [Powell] is a great addition to the technical staff because a lot of players have been through a lot over the last year, so to have somebody outside of the customary coaches to go to is very important. So, I am grateful for Cedella Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation, as well as the Reggae Girlz Foundation along with the Jamaica Football Federation, for their support in making this happen,” Busby, a former national goalkeeper, ended.

Squad: Sydney Schneider, Yazmeen Jamieson, Chantelle Swaby, Konya Plummer, Allyson Swaby, Jody Brown, Chinyelu Asher, Havana Solaun, Satara Murray, Kayla McCoy, Gabrielle Gayle, Mikayla Davies, Shania Hayles, Drew Spence, Vyan Simpson, Tiernny Wiltshire, Rebecca Spencer, Tiffany Cameron, Cheyna Matthews, Peyton McNamara, Sashana Campbell, Deneisha Blackwood, Olufolasade Adamolekun