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History in the Making - World Cup 2019

History in the Making - World Cup 2019

May 31, 2019

Days away from the kick off of the 2019 World Cup, Goal Five caught up with two of our athletes playing in the tournament this summer – Dominique Bond-Flasza and Allyson Swaby. Dom and Allyson are teammates on the Jamaican Women’s National Team that made history becoming the first Caribbean team to make the tournament. The team is also making headlines for their fight to fund their way to the World Cup. After not receiving the financial support needed on their road to qualifying for France this summer, the team looked for alternative methods and formed the The Reggae Girlz Foundation (RGF).

“The mission of the Reggae Girlz Foundation is to inspire, educate, mobilize, develop and support the next generation of young female soccer players in Jamaica. Through RGF initiatives, we strive to level the playing field for females in the sport by improving the growth, development and accessibility to quality soccer programs that enhance the physical, mental, spiritual and personal development of girls in underserved communities across Jamaica.”

Dom and Allyson shared a bit about their experience on the road to their first World Cup.

How long have you been with the Jamaican National Team?

Dom: I was invited to my first senior camp in 2014 in Florida and it was around the time we were qualifying for the 2015 FIFA World Cup. Right after the qualifiers the team also lost its funding and was disbanded. I was brought back into the senior squad in May 2018 when we went to Haiti for the first round of 2019 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Allyson: I have been a member of the Jamaican National Team since 2014. However, after a failed World Cup qualification attempt later that year, the team was inactive until May 2018. 

Dom Bond-Flasza of the Jamaican Women's National Team

Tell us about the journey to qualify for your first World Cup, as an individual and as a nation?

Dom: As a nation, our journey began in Haiti. We had a short camp preparing for the first round of qualifiers, however, for many, this was our first time playing together. We ended up barely edging out the hosts, Haiti. The next stage of qualifiers hosted by us was an amazing experience. To be able to play in front of a home crowd was amazing. We won the Caribbean Championships and moved on to the CONCACAF stage. In Texas we faced Canada, Costa Rica, and Cuba in our group stage, and won enough points to send us through to the semifinals. After losing to the US in the semis, we played Panama for third place and the last automatic World Cup qualification spot. The match was intense, with us scoring first and them tying it up to force overtime. In overtime we scored again, and Panama tied it again, forcing penalty kicks. Our keeper, Nicole McClure, who came in as a substitute for the penalty kicks, made two spectacular saves and we converted our kicks to beat out Panama to qualify for our first World Cup.

Allyson: The journey to qualifying was filled with ups and downs. Due to financial constraints, our team had to compete with a fraction of the resources as some of our opponents. We had a combined two and a half weeks of training on the year leading into the CONCACAF Finals. Thankfully, we had an incredibly resilient group who were able to come together with a common goal in mind: Qualifying for our first World Cup. As an individual, I was competing with no other incentive than to represent my country well. To be able to begin this journey so humbly and have it end with a World Cup qualification further instilled in me that no dream is too big. This great achievement started with a group of people crazy enough to think it was possible.

Allyson Swaby of the Jamaican Women's National Team

How much support do you receive from the Federation? How can people help support the Reggae Girlz World Cup journey?

Dom: Initially, on our journey to qualifying we didn’t receive as much support as I had expected. We did not play any friendlies in preparation and did not even have a camp before the CONCACAF tournament. After qualifying we have received a lot more support, but it could still be better. I think the most important thing our qualification has accomplished is to start the discussion about the need for grassroots football programs for young children in Jamaica, especially young girls. Young girls in Jamaica today are lacking opportunities, growing up having to play with boys, if they are even allowed to play with them. I hope our Federation and the Government of Jamaica sees our qualification as an opportunity to grow the program from the ground up, starting with the youth players in Jamaica.

Allyson: It is certain that the support from our federation has grown tremendously since our qualification. However, finances remain an issue that the team struggles with. We have begun to receive support from corporate Jamaica and our federation has been working hard to find more sponsorship for our team. People can support our cause by contributing to the Reggae Girlz Foundation and following our journey on social media though @JFF_Football and @ReggaeGirlzFoundation.

The Women’s Jamaican National Team makes their World Cup debut Sunday, June 9th vs. Brazil. Representing their country for the first time in history, these women will be showing the world there isn’t a dream too big.  Goal Five is incredibly proud to have trailblazing athletes like Allyson and Dom on our squad.  We'll be cheering hard for the Reggae Girlz!

Cited: https://reggaegirlzfoundation.com/about/



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