Find a Way!!!!!!

..a thank you letter to the Reggae Girlz, from a photographer’s perspective behind the goal

The Girlz pose for their match against France. FIFA World Cup 2023. Photo: Ridley Ingram/@the1picturesnapper

…After enduring a long 23 hour journey from the East coast to Los Angeles, and then to Sydney. My Jamaican Reggae Girlz have made the country proud at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, delivering an amazing run that will no doubt be remembered for years to come. Under the leadership of coach Lorne Donaldson, the Reggae Girlz were able to showcase their talent, teamwork, and determination on the biggest stage in women’s football.

One of the standout performers for the tournament for the Reggae Girlz was our captain Khaadija “Bunny” Shaw. Her incredible versatility and leadership were on full display, as she excelled on both offence and defence, including running back  on all corner kicks. But perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of her game was her ability to lead by example, inspiring and motivating her team mates at all times, by continually talking to them, helping them with positioning, and fighting like Ms Maawdi mad bull, through every defense that was thrown at her.

Bunny on the ground, AGAIN!! Photo: Ridley Ingram/@the1picturesnapper
Drew Spence_Jamaica vs Panama_FIFA World Cup Group Stage_Perth Australia 2023 Photo:Ridley Ingram @the1picturesnapper

Rebecca Spencer, Allyson Swaby, Chantelle Swaby, and Drew Spence were also key performers for the Reggae Girlz, as they provided the heart and soul of this team. Their consistent effort and desire to win, even when the odds were against them, was nothing short of inspiring. I was 5 meters away, when  Chantelle “encouraged” the Columbian defender off of her, while her sister Allyson screamed at the top her lungs, (“COME ON YOW, THIS IS IT”) with a minute to go, on the final corner of their last game against Columbia, in the round of 16. (more HERstory)

Celebration time Jamaica vs Panama_FIFA World Cup Group Stage_Perth Australia 2023 Photo:Ridley Ingram/@the1picturesnapper.

However, it would be remiss not to mention the super substitute Tiffany Cameron. She may not have started many games, but every time she was brought onto the pitch, she made an impact, changing the momentum of the game in favour of the Reggae Girlz. I remember her getting pinned on the line by the Brasilian great Martha, and one of her Brasilian team mates, in which “TiFF ” skillfully worked her way thru both defenders. (Check out the images by @jamaican_footballers) on her IG page (@tiffany_cameron11)  Her positive attitude, friendliness, and willingness to accommodate the media, fans, and her teammates, was always evident. She showed up with Coach Donalson, the equipment management team, and the Medical staff, for the after party which was held by local Jamaicans living in Australia.

Tiffany _amaica vs Panama_FIFA World Cup Group Stage_Perth Australia 2023

But the credit for this amazing run does not end there. Coach Donaldson deserves a lot of praise for his vision and ability to bring in some youngsters to the team, including Liya Brooks, Peyton McNamara, Solai Washington, Kameron Simmonds, and Kalyssa Van-Zanten, and prodigy Jody Brown, who was a handful for the Panamanian defence, as she sliced, and diced her way their defence in game 2 of the Girlz fixture. . This decision not only ensured the longevity of the Reggae Girlz, but also showed his faith in the future of women’s football in Jamaica.

On behalf of Jamaica, all Reggae Girlz Fans, and Gradma Sharon. I thank every player, medical staff, equipment crew (talk about putting in long hours, before the game, during the game, and after the game at the hotel. They can be seen running through the lobby at 2 and 3am in the morning, running to and from the laundry) Gentlemen, we salute you.

All in all, the Reggae Girlz were simply remarkable at this year’s World Cup, defying all expectations and leaving everything they had on the pitch. They should be highly praised for their effort and determination, and they have set the bar high for future generations of women footballers from Jamaica.

Thank you all for ALWAYS FINDing a WAY!!!!!!!

PS. A huge big ups to Rae “Solji” Mcfarlane, who was my driver, security, my alarm clock, my find the Jamaican food wherever it was, and the official hype man during Games.  The man that carried fans, Reggae Girlz supports/parents, by running multiple trips to the airport, the next day after games, and who always had an encouraging word for the Girlz.

Rae “Solji” McFarlane
Swaby sisters celebrate_Jamaica vs Panama_FIFA World Cup Group Stage_Perth Australia 2023
Photo: Ridley Ingram/@the1picturesnapper

I saw “Solji” spend the night in the car in front of someone’s hotel, just so he would not be late for a 4am Pick Up of a “super fan” in Sydney, who had to be at the airport by 6am.

You are a god send my youth.  Until we meet again. Enjoy Zanzabar iIya.

Special thanks to The Reggae Girlz Foundation (https://secure.givelively.org/donate/reggae-girlz-foundation-inc/i-support-the-reggae-girlz-foundation-fundraising-campaign)

and Olive from @thesportsrealtorjm for making this an amazing trip for us.

Ridley Ingram, CEO @stridevisiontv

@the1picturesnapper

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