- Rene Simoes draws parallels between Jamaica men's team of 1998 and Brazil women's team of 2004
- Still adored in Jamaica, Simoes believes Brazil’s first match of the tournament will be a challenge
- The two countries face each other in their opening match of France 2019
By Giancarlo Giampietro with Brazil
We are in France, the country in which Jamaica made their FIFA World Cup™ debut back in 1998. That was the men’s team, yet we are here to talk about women’s football.
To further contextualise this story, cast your mind back to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in which the Brazilian women’s team reached the final for the first time, taking home the silver medal.
You may be asking yourself how Jamaica and Brazil are in any way related. However, there’s a tangible link between the two nations – and that link is Rene Simoes: the globetrotting coach who was in charge of both teams in their landmark campaigns.
Simoes is therefore capable of offering one of the most intriguing perspectives on the opening match of Group C between Brazil and Jamaica in the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™. He tells FIFA.com how there is more than meets the eye to the comparisons between the teams he led to great success.
In Jamaica, football was not considered very important. It was not on the list of investment priorities of entrepreneurs, for example. As for Brazil, even today there are some figures in power who claim that football isn’t a sport for women. It was the prevailing perspective back then.
In order to mould both the pioneering Jamaica side of 1998 and Brazil's 2004 Olympic finalists, a great deal of work was required. Tactical drills and technical expertise alone would not suffice: inculcating a positive mindset in the players would be just as vital, if not even more so.
For example, to instil belief in his Brazil side, Simoes used a variety of strategies. These included one in which each squad member was given a tennis ball and told to visualize it as a medal they could win – and would indeed go on to claim. These approaches were wide ranging for the development of the group.
Jamaica making another debut
Try to imagine then the landscape of Jamaican women's football in the late 1990s, at a time when even the men’s game was still nascent. A friend of FIFA.com, Kayon Davis, a former player and official team reporter for the "Reggae Girlz" at France 2019, has a lot to say about the matter.
Yet a couple of decades later here are the Jamaican girls, ready to mirror the men’s side and make their World Cup debut in France. "I always thought that the sky was the limit for Jamaica in terms of sport,” says Simoes, whose love and respect for the Caribbean islanders is reciprocated. “It is a pleasure to see the women’s side participating in the World Cup."
Simoes believes Jamaica may pose a challenge for the Seleção in their first-round clash. "Jamaica are a very athletic and physical side with much of the team influenced by the North American style of play,” he explains. “Their task in the qualifiers wasn’t an easy one but they managed to reach the World Cup. As for Brazil, they’re still a force to be reckoned with, despite recent results.”
The veteran coach will be watching the match from his home in Rio de Janeiro. FIFA.com did not ask who he would be supporting, but one would imagine he would be content to see both sides come away with positives from the hard work they have put in, both on and off the pitch.