KINGSTON, Jamaica – Khadija Shaw should be over the moon. Way over the moon.
But instead, the Jamaica Reggae Girlz striker has opted to remain grounded with her latest accolade as she was named The Guardian newspaper’s Footballer of the Year.
By nature, Shaw is a quiet, unassuming and supremely humble individual, so her low-key reaction to the prestigious award by the respected British daily surprised only a few.
“This is just like any other award for me through every award is very important, but I just want to continue looking at the positives and continue to work hard,” Shaw said from her Jamaican heartland of Spanish Town.
“To be honest, I feel good about it although I didn’t expect this award; but I have been working hard all year and they say once you put in the work good things will happen and so I am pleased about it,” said the 21-year-old.
Shaw, who attends the University of Tennessee in the USA, was an instrumental figure in Jamaica’s historic qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 and led her team to the glorious achievement through the qualifying rounds with an impressive 19 goals, the most by any player.
It was this accomplishment, plus meeting The Guardian’s rarified criteria that propelled Shaw to become the first female to win the award since its inception in 2016.
The Guardian award for Footballer of the Year is given to a player who has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others, or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty.
The Jamaican darling of women’s football is only the third recipient of the award and joins the ranks of world superstars Italian Fabio Piscane in 2016 and Spain’s Juan Mata in 2017.
“When I heard the names of those who have won it before, I feel even more honored as the first female to win, but at the end of the day I just want to remain humble and hopefully more will come,” Shaw said.
Even though the award went to the Jamaican forward as individual recognition, she wished to share it with her teammates.
“Everything happened because of my teammates, so I just want to continue focusing on the team, and once we continue working hard as a team, hopefully, I won’t be the only one winning awards, but my other teammates will as well, or we get it as a group,” noted Shaw.
The former St Jago High School star, who has represented Jamaica at every level – Under-15, Under-17, Under-20 and senior – was singled out for the award because of her display of inner-strength in overcoming personal tragedy and how she managed to stay on top of her game through it all.
Hers is a story of inspiration, and Shaw has embraced her standing as a model of resilience and exemplary conduct.
Her life story has a deadly twist having lost four of her brothers — three to Jamaica’s high rate of crime and violence and another to a vehicular accident.
“Football to me is just more than the sport itself, it is to inspire others, so I am willing to do whatever I can to inspire others — whether it be playing on the soccer field or giving motivational speeches.
“So just winning these awards can show others that if I can do it, they can do it also,” she noted.
The Guardian’s Footballer of the Year award adds to her 2018 collection, having already copped the Jamaican Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Sport. Shaw is also a nominee for Sportswoman of the Year, the most prestigious award for Jamaicans who have excelled in the arena of sport.