Jamaica’s record scorer, Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, describes herself as a “simple but very unpredictable player” when asked what fans should expect from her after her move to Manchester City.
“I could do something today and then tomorrow I’ll do something different,” he says. “But I try to make the game as simple as possible, because if you try to complicate things, the game becomes more complicated.”
Stripping the game down to its core seems to have worked: The 24-year-old has 42 goals in 30 games for Jamaica and inspired the Reggae Girlz to a first major tournament when they qualified for the World Cup in France in 2019.
After finishing as the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year at the University of Tennessee, where she scored 27 goals in 35 games over two seasons, Shaw signed for Bordeaux on the eve of the World Cup. In two seasons in France he scored 31 goals in 33 appearances.
His journey, however, has been less smooth. As Shaw flourished in the US, at his home in Spanish Town outside Kingston, he would lose three of his brothers to gang-related violence and another in a car accident, making his promotion even more notable, and she would be named the Guardian Footballer of the Year in 2018.
“It has been a long and hard journey,” he says. “But I always tried to focus on my goals rather than obstacles: growing up with that mindset of just wanting to achieve something and not just thinking about what it will take to get there, but just wanting to get to that stage and be proud of myself. same. It was also very difficult for my family. But like I said, it’s just a way of thinking and if you have the right mindset, you can achieve anything. “
Representing his country in one of the best leagues in the world next season is a challenge he loves. “It’s definitely huge and inspiring for younger girls who dream of being in the position that I am or better,” she says. “Since I joined Manchester City, a lot of people have come to my house asking questions and things like that, so it’s just another thing to think about, something else that motivates me.
“Yes, technically I am in the best league in the world, but at the same time I not only play for myself, I play for my family and the smaller and younger children of the Caribbean. Not just Jamaica. When a country does well, the other countries congratulate and are inspired by what the other country or that other person is doing, so for me going to Manchester City is a motivation for the little ones who probably did not see a way out that they can say, ‘Oh, if Bunny is there, that means I can do the same.’
Someone at City plays an equally inspiring role. “Raheem Sterling,” he says fondly, “is Jamaican and we tried to support Jamaicans, so when he left Liverpool and went to Manchester, that’s when I started following City and then the women’s team. It is very exciting, the team, there are many great players, and for me it is about arriving and learning everything I can from them and I hope they can help me and I can help them too ”.
Sterling’s Instagram video welcoming Shaw to the club was special then: “Come and do some damage here,” he ended with a heavy accent.
Moving to England, Shaw joins an elite group of forwards and is eager to go head-to-head with players like Chelsea’s Sam Kerr and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, and play alongside Ellen White.
“I’m very excited, I want to be in that environment,” she says. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want to be put to the test and I want to compete and I think they could help me too … I could help them. Playing against other players from other teams is just one more step, another test for you as a player. I was in France and I won the Golden Boot; moving to England is just one more step. Competing and playing against some of the best forwards in the world is an incredible feeling.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism