Reggae Girlz buoyed by historic Fifa ranking
Jamaica's Tiffany Cameron (right) attempts to outrun Grenada's Rachel Noel in their Concacaf Women's World Cup qualifier in February 2022.

While celebrating a massive leap to their highest-ever Fifa ranking of 42, which is described as another testament to their hard work, members of Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz say they remain inspired as they believe there is still much more to be accomplished.

The Girlz move nine places up from 51st in the latest Fifa rankings released on Friday, powered by their second-consecutive, third-place finish at the Concacaf Women's Championship which secured automatic qualification to next year's Fifa World Cup.

At the Concacaf Championship in Mexico in July, the Girlz defeated the host nation 1-0, Haiti 4-0 and Costa Rica 1-0 and in the process sealed a spot the women's football global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand. They also suffered 0-5 and 0-3 losses against eventual winners United States and runners-up Canada.

The Girlz remain fifth-ranked in Concacaf behind the world's top team United States, seventh-ranked Canada, Mexico (36th) and Costa Rica (37th). The Jamaicans, who have significantly closed the gap on Mexico and Costa Rica, are fewer than 90 points behind both.

Along with overtaking Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Nigeria, the Reggae Girlz, on 1543.93 points, are in range of potentially breaking into the 30s bracket before the World Cup. The 38th-ranked Chinese Taipei (1581.2), 39th-rated Chile (1580.9), Romania (1574.3) at 40 and Thailand (1555) at 41 are far off.

It is still a long shot, but for now team manager Crystal Walters believes the new ranking is a major positive for the country which celebrated its 60th year of Independence on Saturday August 6.

"This is a massive achievement for any Caribbean team whether male or female and one that's truly deserving for the outstanding team work and dedication these ladies displayed.

"Each player has done exceptionally well and if Jamaica could only get a glimpse of their sacrifices and how they push themselves even when in pain, they would truly celebrate with the ladies. It's an achievement that should be highlighted and recognised," Walters told the Jamaica Observer.

Though she wasn't present when the Girlz made their historic appearance at the 2019 World Cup in France, Walters was on hand for the recent feat and said by all indications, her Girlz are intent on breaking even more barriers, despite the odds against them.

"There's always room for improvement. The work has just began and so they know it is important to maintain focus and stay committed to the very end," Walter said.

"The ladies have inspired so many other countries throughout the Caribbean and have sent a strong signal to world at large by carving their names in the history book again. But like I said earlier, this is just the beginning, they know that the have a whole island of young and aspiring female players to lead the way for and I can tell you that they remain committed to seeing it through," she added.

Canadian-born winger Tiffany Cameron reinforced the sentiments of Walters.

"It's a great accomplishment and is a testament of the team's hard work and resilience," said Cameron, who plies her trade in Hungary.

"From the last World Cup in 2019, we learned that we have to take our game to another level in order to compete with the best countries in the world and we did that. Leading up to this World Cup, it will be very important for us to continue to build chemistry and get as many friendly games as possible in, so that we are ready next year to compete on the world's biggest stage once again," she added.

For Sashana "Pete" Campbell, the move was always expected, though she never had 42nd position in mind.

"I think it is a well-deserved move. It just goes to show that we are on the right path to greatness and our worked is being noticed. But definitely a lot more work to come both on and off the pitch. Even if we were number one in the world, the work still has to go on to stay on top," Campbell told the Observer from her base in Poland where she represents Medyk Konin.

The utility player underlined the significance of the move in assisting players who aspire to play in some of the top league's around the world to bring that vision to fruition.

"The move was expected, not the position, but after the last tournament, I think it is justified and it is a good look for the team. I think it will help players transition in to good clubs," the Manchester native said.

"I think it will also boost the right people/team to have some practice games going forward. We as a team, federation and country all just need to put in the necessary and support to ensure that the Reggae Girlz brand keeps growing going forward from here on out," Campbell noted.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) saluted the Girlz and technical staff on their achievements.

"This lofty ranking was achieved after their classy performances at the Concacaf Women's championships recently where they qualified Jamaica for their second-consecutive Fifa World Cup. Special commendations and thanks to their dedicated technical staff, support staff, partners and sponsors for their invaluable contribution," the JFF release said.

The Reggae Boyz maintain their ranking of number 62.

WALTERS...if Jamaica could only get a glimpse of their sacrifices and how they push themselves, even when in pain, they would truly celebrate with the ladies.
Sherdon Cowan

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