Saturday 17 August, 2019

Reggae Girl striker Khadija Shaw named Guardian Footballer of the Year

Khadija Shaw (centre) celebrates with teammates after the Reggae Girlz defeated Panama 4-2 on penalties  in the third-place playoff match at the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship on October 17 at the Toyota Stadium in Texas to qualify for their first Women's World Cup.

Khadija Shaw (centre) celebrates with teammates after the Reggae Girlz defeated Panama 4-2 on penalties in the third-place playoff match at the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship on October 17 at the Toyota Stadium in Texas to qualify for their first Women's World Cup.

Khadija Shaw, a star striker of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz, has been named as The Guardian Footballer of the Year for 2018.

Shaw has overcome personal tragedy – losing four brothers, three of them to gang-related violence in a short period of time – to guide the Reggae Girlz into their first Women’s World Cup and the University of Tennessee to the best season in their history.

The 21-year-old Shaw made her senior international debut in July before World Cup qualifying. She answered the call with 11 goals in nine appearances, including the opening goal in the 2-2 draw with Panama in the third-place playoff match at the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship on October 17 at the Toyota Stadium in Texas that went to a penalty shootout, where the Reggae Girlz punched their historic World Cup ticket.

The historic qualification to the 2019 FIFA World Cup follows the success of the men’s squad, which participated in the World Cup for the first time in France 1998.

Shaw also finished with 13 goals in 15 appearances for Tennessee as they reached the last eight of the NCAA tournament for the first time, landing in the year-end top 10 of all three national rankings, another first for them. After graduation and next summer’s World Cup in France, she plans to pursue a professional career either in the United States or Europe.

Shaw grew up alongside seven brothers and five sisters.  The forward played for the national team at the under-15, under-17 and under-20 level before eventually moving on to the University of Tennessee.  Shaw admitted that the death of her siblings had been difficult to deal with.

“I wanted to go home,” Shaw told The Guardian.

“I didn’t want to play soccer. And it was just hard because you lost four and then you come back again and lose two nephews. It’s just like: ‘What more to come? I want to go home because I didn’t get to say goodbye to them and now they’re gone.”

The Guardian Footballer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty. Shaw is the third winner following Fabio Pisacane in 2016 and Juan Mata in 2017.

 

 

 

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