By Gregory Bryce
International Women’s Day would have come and gone by the time this article is published, but I feel that I would not have done justice to our women, if I had not taken the time to highlight some of the achievements that our female athletes have made over the last few months.
Many of these athletes would have seen their efforts needlessly swept under the rug, but they deserve respect for the work being done as pioneers in their field, and outstanding ambassadors of brand Jamaica.
If there was anyone to highlight first, it would most definitely be the woman who holds the record for Jamaica’s all-time top goal scorer – including both the men’s and women’s teams – Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw. Shaw had burst on to the football field with the intent of reaching the very pinnacle of the sport, and is well on her way to doing so. From her humble days as a standout student-athlete at St. Jago High School, she has now flourished into one of the best strikers in the women’s game. She currently leads the French league’s scoring chart with 19 goals in 15 games and is looking to lead her club, Bordeaux, to UEFA Women’s Champions League berth.
Another player from the Reggae Girlz to highlight is one of the youngest of the team. Her diminutive stature seems to be the exact opposite of her enormous potential as 18 year-old Jody Brown has proven she will be a force to reckon with in the years to come. Brown made her debut for the senior team at age 16 and two years later, Brown has grown in leaps and bound. She now represents Florida State University where, in her freshman year, she helped the institution win the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women’s Soccer Championship.
Track and Field
But, who else to speak about than Jamaica’s very own ‘Pocket Rocket’ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce? Ever since she won Jamaica’s heart with her blistering Olympic win back at Beijing 2008, it seems Fraser-Pryce is yet to put a foot wrong. Regarded as one of the best female sprinters of all time, and undoubtedly the best Jamaica has seen, Fraser-Pryce has remained an iconic symbol of strength and determination. As she approaches the homestretch of her career, Fraser-Pryce has spoken about her imminent retirement from the sport, but until then, she remains crème-de-la-crème on the track.
In perhaps one of the best examples of passing the torch, Brianna Williams has been sending waves of electrified energy with every race. The blistering Williams only seems to get faster with every race she runs, and has already cemented her place as one of the best of her age group. Having already dominated CARIFTA and the U20 World Championships, Williams is ready to make the step up to the senior ranks and compete with the best the world has to offer.
Even those with the most limited knowledge of netball and the Sunshine Girls know the name Jhaniele Fowler. The 6’5 tall goal shooter, who explained that she had started to play netball because a primary school teacher had picked her to play because she was the tallest girl in her class, is a living legend in her field. Fowler, who made her Sunshine Girls debut back in 2018, has been a trailblazer with the medals to prove her prowess. An inspiration for younger netball players, Fowler remains one of the best goal shooters of the modern game.
To speak about female cricket is to speak about Stafanie Taylor. Captain of the West Indies women’s team, Taylor remains one of the most recognizable players in the women’s sport. The Jamaican has the accolades to back her legacy, having been named the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year, ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year and the ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year. She was also nominated for the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Decade and the ODI Women’s Cricketer of the Decade awards. Not a bad career for the Spanish Town native.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance sports journalist.
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