Jamaica Player Profiles

By July 19, 2023
Jamaica's star player Khadija "Bunny" Shaw Jamaica's star player Khadija "Bunny" Shaw

Jamaica's Reggae Girlz takes the spotlight in our Fifa Women's World Cup build-up feature today. The Jamaicans will be making a second-consecutive appearance at the global showpiece set to get under way on July 20 and end August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

Goalkeepers

Name: Rebecca Spencer

Date of Birth: 22 February 1991

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Tottenham Hotspur

Profile: Born in England, Spencer had a nomadic start to her career before settling at her current employers, Tottenham Hotspur. Capped by England at Under-19 and Under-20 levels, she also received a call-up to the senior England squad in 2016 but was an unused substitute against Estonia. She qualified for Jamaica through her father and made her debut in June 2021, wasting little time in establishing herself as the Reggae Girlz No 1. She was instrumental in Jamaica’s second-consecutive World Cup qualification, showing off her goalkeeping skills with much gusto, particularly at the Concacaf Women’s Championship in Mexico. Now set to make her first World Cup appearance, Spencer has no qualms in admitting that she is at a ripe age in her career, which is why she is intent on making the most of this opportunity. "I want to have the best competition of my life,” she says. “I'm 32, so I'm not getting any younger. But you know, nothing really phases me in any situation. I have a lot of experience playing in England, so I hope I can bring that to the World Cup.”

Name: Sydney Schneider

Date of Birth: 31 August 1999

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Sparta Prague

Profile: Born in the United States in a multicultural family, Schneider could have represented her home country or Germany, the birthplace of her biological father. Instead, she opted to represent her maternal grandparents’ homeland, Jamaica. After impressing as a youth player, Schneider became first choice at senior level and pulled off some key saves on the way to their historic World Cup qualification in 2019. At that World tournament in France, Schneider, standing close to 1.82m tall aged 19, was again prominent and pulled off a stunning penalty save in their opening game against Brazil, though they inevitably lost 3-0. Now older and wiser, Schneider is ready to perform at her second World Cup but it is unlikely that she will be first choice with Spencer now in the squad.

Name: Liya Brooks

Date of Birth: 17 May 2005

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Washington State University

At only 18, Liya Brooks caught the attention of Lorne Donaldson and his assistants during the tour of South Korea in September last year. The US-born player, who earned her Jamaica stripes through her mother, showed incredible ability at the Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments and it was little surprise that she quickly made the step up to the senior squad. Brooks is aware that she is merely the understudy to Spencer and Schneider and, as such, is aiming to learn as much as she can from her first World Cup. “Becky and Syd are amazing players, they inspire and push me to be better, so I just want what is best for the team,” she says. “Yes, I will fight for a spot in the starting team, but if that doesn’t happen then that is OK – I just want to make the most of the experience,” she told Sportsmax.tv.

Defenders

Name: Allyson Swaby

Date of Birth: 3 October 1996

Position: Central defence

Club: Angel City FC

Born in Connecticut to Jamaican parents, she has been a rock in defence since making her debut in 2018. Instrumental in the team’s qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France where she shared the pitch with her sister Chantelle. Swaby shows a preference for direct, vertical football, getting the ball forwards quickly. She is a skilled defender in aerial duels and can often be tasked with man-marking by her team, owing to her athleticism and strength. It is those attributes that have earned her a move to Roma, where she played for three seasons, helping the club to their first major title when they beat Milan in the Coppa Italia final. She then returned to the US to represent Angel City FC, but was loaned out to Paris St-Germain for six months. Expect her experience to be on display in Australia and New Zealand.

Name: Chantelle Swaby

Date of Birth: 6 August 1998

Position: Central defence

Club: FC Fleury 91

Like her sister, Allyson, Chantelle came into the Jamaica setup in 2018 and has been a prominent figure for the Reggae Girlz since then. She initially joined as a midfielder but her versatility has allowed her to shine in other positions, particularly defence. In fact, it was at the 2019 World Cup in France that her true potential came to the fore when she was asked to play a holding midfield role and did so to great acclaim. Since then, she has been utilised as a centre-back, right-back and left-back. Chantelle, who currently plays in France for FC Fleury 91, after stints with Sky Blue FC and Rangers – where she scored four goals in seven appearances – will be a reliable asset for Jamaica in her second World Cup with her older sister by her side.

Name: Konya Plummer

Date of Birth: 2 August 1997

Club: Unattached

Position: Centre-back

Born and raised in St Mary, Jamaica, before she went overseas for university, Plummer represented her nation at all levels – Under-15, Under-17, Under-20 and now the senior team, which she has captained on numerous occasions, including at the 2019 World Cup. She played every minute of that tournament and even produced a few stunning solo runs. Apart from her aggression, Plummer’s speed is also a key asset, which is why the head coach, Lorne Donaldson, was sweating about her fitness on return from maternity leave. A lot of emphasis was placed on Plummer’s readiness, as she only resumed training late last year after giving birth to her son. “I think it is important for young girls and people around the world, but most importantly Jamaica, to see that you can have a family and still come back and play,” she says. Through hard work and stubborn determination, she erased all doubts about her fitness and hit competitive mode at the right time to return in defence.

Name: Vyan Sampson

Date of Birth: 2 July 1996

Position: Central defence/midfield

Club: Hearts

Born in London but with Jamaican heritage, she played as a youth at Charlton and Arsenal and later represented England at Under-17 and Under-19 levels. She continued her senior career at Arsenal, West Ham and London City Lionesses, before joining up with Jamaica following their World Cup qualification in 2019. Since then, Sampson, a calming influence at the back and as a holding midfielder, has made Scotland her home, where she plays for Hearts. Now in a happy place for both club and country, she can’t wait to make her World Cup debut. “This is probably the first time in my career that both club and country have matched up so well and taken care of me rather than just seeing me as a commodity,” she says. “I feel fully supported. We [Jamaica] are a small nation, but we don't fear anyone.”

Name: Tiernny Wiltshire

Date of Birth: 8 May 1998

Position: Right-back

Club: Unattached

Another player who can hold down multiple positions if required to do so. This US-born player initially joined the Reggae Girlz as an attacker in 2019 for the Olympic qualifiers and has played for Maccabi Emek Hefer in Israel, Finland’s Kuopio Palloseura and Houston Dash, as a forward. With Jamaica, however, she has excelled as a right-back and has made it her comfort zone heading into her first World Cup.

Name: Tiffany Cameron

Date of Birth: 16 October 1991

Position: Right-back

Club: Real Betis

One the most experienced players in the squad, the Canadian-born defender has represented clubs in her home country, the United States, Israel, Germany, Sweden and now Hungary. Cameron is a natural leader and despite being an attacker for most of her career, she embraced change and showed her versatility when it mattered most to secure her spot as a full-back in the World Cup squad. Cameron has enjoyed a fine season at FC Gyor, scoring 14 goals and making 10 assists. She dabbles in the music industry and has already released a few singles, including the Reggae Girlz’ official anthem at the 2019 World Cup. “'Our Time is Now' in France was so fun," she told fifa.com. "I had such a good time doing that, and my teammates loved it – a couple of them even got a bit teary-eyed. It all started when I was in school. I would write some rhymes back then and, believe me, they were terrible! I loved Missy Elliott, 50 Cent, Eminem, but Missy especially – the swagger she has is amazing.”

Name: Deneisha Blackwood

Date of Birth: 7 March 1997

Position: Left-back

Club: GPSO 92 Issy

A homegrown player who left Jamaica for university and has since blossomed on the international stage. Blackwood has been a feature in the senior team since her debut in 2018. She may be short in stature but what she lacks in height, Blackwood more than makes up for with her skills and determination. Quick, slippery and a hard worker with heart, she gives her all for the team. “I just want to support my teammates whether I'm on or off the field,” she says. “That has always been my biggest thing being a part of this Reggae Girlz setup, the way we play with and for each other – that is the most important thing."

Name: Sashana Campbell (Alternate player)

Date of Birth: 2 March 1991

Position: Left-back

Club: Medyk Konin

Nicknamed “Pete”, Campbell picked up an injury at the Concacaf Women's Championship in Mexico but reported fit and healthy for the recent camp and made the cut as an emergency alternative to play anywhere in defence if needed. A homegrown player with quality and experience that the head coach, Lorne Donaldson, really values. "She is a very versatile player, who can give us quality in any position between defence and attack,” he says. 

Midfielders

Name: Peyton McNamara

Date of Birth: 22 February 2002

Position: Holding midfielder

Club: Ohio State

A US-born player, who first represented Jamaica at the Under-20 level and later transitioned to the senior setup, where she commanded the coaching staff’s attention in the buildup to the World Cup. She is among Concacaf’s budding young talents and the next generation of players expected to lead Jamaica’s charge, so the debut experience on the world stage will do her well. 

Name: Havana Solaun

Date of Birth: 23 February 1993

Position: Central midfield

Club: Houston Dash

Born in Hong Kong to an Afro-Cuban father and a Jamaican mother, Solaun was originally eligible to play for the national teams of Hong Kong, the United States, Cuba or Jamaica. Though she represented the US at Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 levels Solaun stuck with Jamaica after making her debut against Chile in 2019 and secured a spot in the squad for France 2019, where she scored Jamaica's first-ever goal in a Women's World Cup after coming on as a second-half substitute against Australia. A nippy attacker who loves to dribble, Solaun’s career has taken her around the world – she has played for clubs in the US, Norway, France and Cyprus and recently signed a two-year contract with Houston Dash. Fun fact: her first name is a tribute to her paternal grandparents’ birthplace and football was at one point her second choice. She was a talented tennis player and considered that as her preferred career before switching back to football.

Name: Drew Spence

Date of Birth: 23 October 1992

Position: Central midfield

Club: Tottenham Hotspur

Profile: Born in London, Spence is one of Jamaica’s most decorated players at club level. She was Chelsea’s longest-serving player, scoring 50 goals in 238 appearances between 2008 and 2022, a glittering period in which she won five WSL titles and four Women’s FA Cups before switching to Tottenham. Spence had a brief stint with England in 2015 but switched allegiance to Jamaica in 2021 and was instrumental in qualification for the World Cup. She is another player who is willing to adapt in whatever position Lorne Donaldson requires of her, but her knowledge, passion, vision and the fact that she is a calming influence makes her perfectly suited to midfield. “I’m very composed on the ball and I can break up play in midfield,” she told TottenhamHotspur.com. “I can score a few goals as well!” 

Name: Atlanta Primus

Date of Birth: 21 April 1997

Position: Attacking midfielder

Club: London City Lionesses

Another player born in England who was integral in the qualification process. Primus, the daughter of former Reading and Portsmouth player Linvoy Primus, represented England at youth level before making her Jamaica debut in a friendly against Costa Rica in December 2021. She is a strong and fast midfielder, who is comfortable in possession and doesn’t mind showing her skills in one-on-one situations. “A big motivation for me is my family,” she says. “They support me and have sacrificed a lot – I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Name: Solai Washington

Date of Birth: 1 July 2005

Position: Central midfield

Club: Concorde Fire/Chamblee High

At 17, the US-born midfielder is the youngest member of the squad and is certainly one of the up-and-coming players to look out for at the World Cup. Still in high school going into her senior year, Washington first joined the setup at a camp in Florida earlier this year and hasn’t looked back since. She possesses great ability and works hard on and off the ball in a manner that belies her age. Heading to a first World Cup for her is a mixed bag of emotions as her older sister, Giselle, who was also a part of the pool for selection, was left out of the final 23. "My sister is disappointed because she loves Jamaica and the Reggae Girlz,” she says. “But she is also extremely excited for me and has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my journey.

Name: Trudi Carter

Date of Birth: 18 November 1994

Position: Attacking midfielder

Club: Unattached

Born and raised in the tough Southern St Andrew neighbourhood of Arnett Gardens in Kingston, Carter knew her talent could change her family's fortunes. “Sometimes my grandmother was sleeping and [gun] shots were flying through the window," she said in an interview when she was first called up to the Jamaica squad. "That was my motivation to take my family out of this community and football was the avenue to do that.” She represented Jamaica at Under-17 and Under-20 levels, before heading to the United States for university where her focus was firmly set on gaining a professional contract. Her nippy footwork and confidence on the ball drew the attention of Roma, where she spent one season before injuries derailed her progress. She fought long and hard to regain some semblance of form for the 2019 World Cup in France, but never really performed to her true potential until 2021. That was when she joined FC Gintra in Lithuania, scoring 17 goals in 16 appearances and she brought that form into the qualifiers where she scored five goals to help secure World Cup qualification. 

Forwards 

Name: Khadija Shaw

Date of Birth: 31 January 1997

Position: Centre-forward

Club: Manchester City

Jamaica’s most outstanding homegrown player, Shaw’s entire career has not only been dedicated to raising the bar where personal goals are concerned, but also about helping others achieve their goals. In 2018, when she was named The Guardian's Footballer of the Year, Shaw vowed to do everything in her power — both on and off the field — to inspire others, and to date she has done so with alacrity. Shaw's story is one of inspiration and her successes are a testament to her strong character. She lost four brothers – three to Jamaica's high rate of crime and violence and another to a vehicular accident – yet she has been a model of resilience and exemplary conduct throughout her glittering career. “I know they’re watching over me,” she told the Guardian. “When I accomplish something I’m always happy, but I’m thinking I wanted them to see this.”. Shaw is making waves at both club and national level. She recently won the Concacaf Women’s Player of the Year award and was named WSL Player of the Month twice last season. Her versatility is a game-changer. She can wreak havoc on the wing or dominate as a forward. She has already cemented her name in the record books as Jamaica's all-time leading goalscorer across both men's and women's football with 55 goals at time of publication. 

Name: Jody Brown

Date of Birth: 16 April 2022

Position: Winger

Club: Florida State University

After Shaw, Brown is the next most prolific homegrown player. She represented Jamaica at every level and made her senior team debut in 2018 at just 16. That same year she emerged as a prominent figure in the senior team and won the best young player award at the Concacaf Women’s championships, scoring four goals on the way to World Cup qualification in 2019. She is, undoubtedly, an influential forward, who, at 21, has a lot more scope for growth and improvement which is what makes her such a dangerous prospect. Brown is shy by nature but when she is on the ball, her true personality shines through. She is fast, confident and difficult to catch, especially in one-on-one situations, from which most of her 12 senior goals in 18 appearances, have come. She backs herself as the Reggae Girlz’ best dancer. “[If there was a dance-off] I would be the winner,” she says. 

Name: Paige Bailey-Gayle

Date of Birth: 12 November 2001

Position: Winger

Club: Crystal Palace

Another London-born player who featured for England at the youth level before joining Jamaica’s senior setup. A skillful forward who joined Crystal Palace in 2022, Bailey-Gayle is set to become the club's first-ever female player to feature at a Women’s World Cup. The initial switch to Jamaica required a lot of thought, she said, but now she is relishing every moment of it. “It is a massive honour for me and my family … I feel it was the right decision,” she says. “Qualifying for the Women’s World Cup is another massive honour. I never thought I’d become a full international, and now I am, it's the greatest feeling in the world.” She has already earned seven caps at the time of writing and is consistently putting in the work to score her first goal for Jamaica. 

Name: Kameron Simmonds

Date of Birth: 12 June 2003

Position: Centre-forward

Club: University of Tennessee

The third person in her family to represent Jamaica, following in the footsteps of her father, Gregory, and grandfather, Patrick. The US-born forward was first invited to the senior team in September 2022 before the friendly against South Korea and has since become a staple in the team. Simmonds scored her first international goal against Czech Republic at the 2023 Cup of Nations tournament in Australia. Interestingly, Simmonds’ international career almost didn’t happen. She was a gymnast until she fractured an elbow at the age of 11. She switched to football the next year and started training with her father, a former striker who played professionally for over a decade and still holds the record for goals scored at Howard University. “The love that we have for the game and each other, it's just so amazing that I get to continue that legacy within the family,” she says. “It’s something we can bond over and talk about. It's just an incredible honour.”

Name: Cheyna Matthews

Date of Birth: 10 November 1993

Position: Centre-forward

Club: Chicago Red Stars

This will be the second World Cup for the US-born striker, who received her first call-up just months after she had given birth to her first son, Josiah, in 2019. Matthews, who is married to NFL tight end, Jordan, has had a similar path to selection for this World Cup – having recently returned to action after giving birth to her third son – and again impressed the coaching staff to secure her place in the squad. A prolific goalscorer, who started her career with Washington Spirit and then Racing Louisville, Matthews often shares the main striker’s role with Shaw and the two even combined during a 2-0 friendly win against Sheffield United recently, with Matthews scoring from her teammate’s cross. Despite strong competition for positions in the first team, Matthews’ quality is such that she is expected to play a significant role in Jamaica’s three group games.

Name: Kalyssa Van Zanten

Date of Birth: 25 August 2001

Position: Winger

Club: University of Notre Dame

Born in the United States to a father of Dutch descent and a Jamaican mother, Van Zanten is another precocious youngster who represents the next generation of Reggae Girlz. She played for the US at youth level but made her Jamaica senior team debut during last year’s World Cup qualifiers, where she figured prominently and impressed with her skill and quality on the ball.

A pacy forward, who plays on the right wing, Van Zanten scored the solitary goal in Jamaica’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica in their third-place game at the Concacaf Women’s Championships in Mexico. “I told her before she went on that she had a goal in her,” said head coach Lorne Donaldson. “If these [young] players have confidence, they will produce.” Much is expected of her.

Name: Kayla McKenna

Date of Birth: 3 September 1996

Position: Centre-forward

Club: Villarreal CF

The granddaughter of former Jamaican politician Pearnel Charles, McKenna, formerly known as McCoy before marriage, made her debut for Jamaica in 2019 and successfully made the France World Cup squad. However, she picked up a knee injury shortly after and was later replaced by Mireya Grey. McKenna has had tremendous success with Rangers since signing in 2021. She has scored 11 goals in 21 appearances at the time of writing and when fully fit, she will be a force to reckon with in Jamaica’s team. McKenna has also showed versatility, as she was asked to play a holding midfield role by previous coach Vin Blaine during the qualifiers, and she did so to good effect. The head coach Lorne Donaldson clearly knows her worth: “She is one of those players who brings value to the attack as a point player so we know she will do well."

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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