May 29, 2018 at 1:32 am #21
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — She is a confident starlet and one of the best local-bred goalkeepers in Jamaica these days.
Simply put, Chris-Ann Chambers is a hungry, gloved-up goaltender currently charting the course to place her name in the annals of the country’s football history.
Just like her idol Petr Cech of the Czech Republic, who is considered to be one of the greatest and most respected goalkeepers of his generation, Chambers is determined to achieve a similar feat of reaching the pinnacle and fulfilling her dreams.
Despite her heavily built stature, Chambers displayed some amount of agility and dexterity on her last assignment — the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Challenge Series — as she defied injury to produce a stellar performance in the final game against Cuba. However, the game ended 1-0 in favour of the Cubans.
“I believe in myself and do what I do to the best of my ability at all times. there is always a feeling you get that is unexplainable when you get to sport the crest of your country. For me, there is no better feeling than representing your country and so you tend to draw added motivation and inspiration from that,” Chambers told the Jamaica Observer.
“Every time you are representing your country you just have to push through certain things because the ultimate goal is to win and achieve the best for your country, so some things become minor when you are called upon to play a big role.
“Petr Cech has always been my favourite goalkeeper… he is humble and very commanding and he pushes through injuries like I have been doing at times,” she added with a big laugh.
As is the case with many young goalkeepers these days, Chambers took up the position by chance and has since honed her skills between the sticks.
During her younger days, Chambers tried her hand at track and field, netball and even cricket, but her undying love was for football and she got her greatest thrill of being competitively involved after she strolled through the gates of Wolmer’s Girls.
At the Heroes’ Circle-based institution Chambers plied her craft as an attacking midfielder, but one thing led to another and after being drafted to the National Under-17 set-up — where she sported the captain’s armband — she was asked to take up the goaltending position.
Since then, through practice and mentoring, she has been enjoying a budding career.
“I always wanted to play football, so when I got the opportunity to play in high school it was the best one ever.
“I was actually scouted as a right winger for the national team and then I was transformed into a goalkeeper. It wasn’t bad because I had some interest in goalkeeping before, so when they told me they wanted me to take up that position I was up for it,” she noted.
Since then the now 22-year-old has worked her way through the ranks of the national set-up, playing key roles in the Under-20 and now Senior Reggae Girlz team.
“It has been really good. It is a different level from high school and the club level and I am happy that I am able to fit into the national programme.
“I have gotten some opportunities out of it because I am able to go to school because of the national team, so it has helped me a lot,” the University of the West Indies student shared.
While pursuing her passion in football, Chambers has been doing well to balance the books with the gloves and is one of those players who epitomises the phrase “Baller with Brains”.
After earning eight distinctions in high school, Chambers’ talent, determination and focus allowed her to realise her true potential, as she was awarded a well-deserved scholarship to the UWI where she is now a fourth-year medical student.
“It is challenging, especially balancing football with it (the books), but I’m making do because I know that if I put in the extra work, it will pay off. Once I’m focused, I know I can achieve whatever I put my mind to,” she declared.
For now, her mind is fully set on doing her part to ensure Jamaica will be the lone team to advance from the first phase of the CONCACAF Caribbean World Cup qualifiers here.
The Reggae Girlz are set to open their Group B fixtures against Guadeloupe at Stade Sylvio Cator at 4:00 pm (3:00 pm Jamaica time) today, before host Haiti battle Martinique in the feature at 6:30 pm.
“I have been playing from the Under-17 level, so I know that my role as the last line of defence is very important. so it’s a challenge and I am ready for because the aim is to get to the second round of the qualifiers.
“So that’s the biggest expectation we have right now, to get nine points in three games; and I am hoping to have a very good tournament to help the team as best as possible,” she ended.
The group winner will progress to the final round scheduled to take place from August 25-September 2.
The top three finishers of the final round will then qualify for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, where they will vie for a spot in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be staged in France.
The fourth-place finisher in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship will engage in an intercontinental play-off for the possibility of an additional CONCACAF spot.
— Sherdon Cowan
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