Here’s how Jamaica’s Cinderella story began in the 2019 Women’s World Cup

There are so many reasons why Jamaica is the Cinderella story of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

For one, Jamaica is the first Caribbean team to qualify for the Women’s World Cup. Two, the Jamaican women’s program was falling apart and about to disband in 2014 before Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella, made it her personal mission to revive the Reggae Girlz and led a global fundraising effort.

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And Jamaica is the lowest FIFA ranked team in the World Cup, entering the tournament at No. 53 in the world rankings. On Sunday, the Jamaica women’s soccer team made its World Cup debut in a 3-0 loss to 10th-ranked Brazil to open Group C action in Grenoble, France.

Even while playing without injured six-time women’s world player of the year Marta, Brazil had enough firepower with the help of a hat trick from Cristiane.

Jamaica’s squad features plenty of Florida connections, starting with the Reggae Girlz’ Oviedo-based coach Hue Menzies.

Also, midfielder Lauren Silver is a Miami native who played at Plantation American Heritage and the University of Florida. Forward Ashleigh Shim played at Florida International University. Midfielder Marlo Sweatman and forward Cheyna Matthews (wife of NFL wide receiver Jordan Matthews) played at Florida State. Defender Konya Plummer played at the University of Central Florida and goalkeeper Nicole McClure and forward Trudi Carter played at the University of South Florida.

In addition, Sunday’s match featured two former FIU soccer standouts facing off with Brazil’s Thaisa Moreno and Jamaica’s Shim. Moreno played at FIU from 2009-2010 and Shim attended FIU from 2011-2014.

The City of Miramar, which has a large Jamaican population, and the locally based Reggae Girlz Foundation hosted Jamaica’s sendoff to the World Cup last month.

Jamaica continues its first-ever Women’s World Cup appearance Friday at noon EST against Italy, which will mark Jamaica’s second match of the group stage. Italy began its World Cup run with a dramatic 2-1 win over Australia on Sunday.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.