Feature
Jamaican Footballer, Khadija Shaw, was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for outstanding achiev​ements in Sports, specifically football.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Jamaica’s goal-scoring phenomenon, Reggae Girl – Khadija Shaw, who has created history by becoming the first national female football player to be honoured with a National Award, aspires towards achieving as much as she can for as long as is possible.

At just age 23, the international footballer, who has already earned the unprecedented distinction of being Jamaica’s all-time leading goal scorer across genders, and shepherded the national team to participating in their first Women’s Football World Cup tournament and their best season in history in 2019, will be awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) for outstanding achievement in the sport.

Ms. Shaw, who played for Jamaica’s Under-15, Under-17, and Under-20 teams before transitioning to the senior level, and served as captain on several occasions, made her senior international debut in the country’s 6-0 win over the Dominica Republic in 2015, scoring a double in that fixture.

The former St. Jago High School student, who has notched remarkable achievements including the United Kingdom-based Guardian “Footballer of the Year” award in 2018, had not previously given thought to the prospect of being bestowed with a national honour.

“Obviously it shows that I am doing something good to be chosen… so I am grateful,” she tells JIS News.

The Spanish Town, St. Catherine native, whose love for football was initially piqued by her curiosity after regularly seeing the sport being played on the streets in her community and the desire to find out what was unique about the game, hopes to remain a source of inspiration to others, including females who want to excel in other male-dominated sporting disciplines.

“Nothing is impossible. It [her love for football] started with [me] proving my mother wrong from a younger age, based on her thought [that] ‘there is not a lot of opportunities [in that sport] for girls in the country and I don’t want you wasting your time’,” she says.

“You have to really want it because no one will be able to do it for you. Have enough courage to start and enough heart to finish,” adds the player who represents Girondins de Bordeaux women’s team in the France’s top flight Ligue 1.

Ms. Shaw, who grew up in socially-challenged De La Vega community in Spanish Town, has lived by her belief that the inner-city will never define who she is or can become.

“I hope I can serve as an example that it’s not where you come from or your circumstances in life, it’s where you want to be that will matter the most,” she posits.

Over the past three years, Ms. Shaw has hosted football competitions for aspiring players in the Spanish Town community of Crescent, and has assisted them with sportswear and other needs.

The Crescent Primary School past student, who admires Argentinian football heavyweight – Lionel Messi, has had her own challenges which she had to contend with and overcome while on her football odyssey.

She faced the tragedy of losing four of her brothers, three of whom were victims of gun violence, and while the other was the casualty of a road accident. She has, however, persevered and been able to rise above those mishaps.

“Life happens and I just had to face it straight up and keep going. It’s just like a band, if something happens to one band member, you don’t stop… you keep the music going; and that what I’ve tried. Yes, it has been difficult a lot of times, but the music continues,” Ms. Shaw reflects.

Meanwhile, the Reggae Girl, who is currently overseas playing for her club, says despite the impact of the novel coronavirus (COCVID-19) pandemic, the current football season has been going well, adding that she is looking forward to qualifying for next year’s continental Champions League tournament with her team.

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