10 years on from the Lady Jags’ historic Gold Cup Qualification
“Looking back on it now ten years later, sometimes I find myself reflecting. Like if I had a little bit more support and resources in many areas, imagine what we might have accomplished beyond that. We might have been the first Caribbean women’s program to make it to a World Cup. But, in hindsight, it’s 2020.”
Those were the musings of Former Lady Jags Head Coach Mark Rodrigues as he reflected on Guyana’s dominance over Cuba in 2010 in a game that bought the country’s first ticket to the Gold Cup.
Rodrigues, who led the team to their first Women’s Gold Cup, reflected on the successes of the determined batch on the 10th anniversary of their participation in the qualifiers – an experience that was both bitter and sweet.
While Rodrigues highlighted the challenges they faced leading up to the win, like the horrible treatment they received in an away game in Cuba, he noted that he is still stunned by the expectations that were surpassed.
“It feels pretty amazing, because when I launched the program at the end of 2008/beginning of 2009, and officially launched it in June 2009 in Turks and Caicos, I had an idea of what I’d hoped would come out of it, and it exceeded my own expectations and that of a lot of other people,” he said.
Another challenge that had to be overcome, he highlighted, was the young crop of players from which a historic performance was expected.
“When we got to the Gold Cup in 2010, those players were ranged between 16 and 22. The average age that came in that point in time was 18 and a half, and we’re heading in to play against these professional players.
“But I constantly preached to them that what we’re doing is bigger than us,” Rodrigues posited.
Looking at the current state of the Lady Jags setup, Rodrigues is confident that they can replicate such historic performances with the right agenda. As such, he commended the programs that are currently in place.
One thing that helped to boost the spirits of the Guyanese team was the crowd that boisterously cheered on the team in support.
Reflecting, the former Head Coach said, “We had not experienced any crowds like this for any games in Guyana, so they knew what was on the line. Guyana knows what’s on the line, and they’re out here to support you, they’re your twelfth player, so let’s use that twelfth players and go out there and make history,” he said.
“And I kept drumming that to them, ‘Let’s make history!’ ‘Let’s make history!’ ‘This is your opportunity to create for Guyana, it will never be forgotten, you will be the first ever to do it, it can never be taken away from you’,” Rodrigues echoed.
“I was crying like a baby,” Rodrigues said of the moment Guyana sealed their 3-1 win over Cuba at the National Stadium at Providence.