Monday 05 November 2018, 08:37

Bond-Flasza, Jamaica’s penalty hero

  • Bond-Flasza scored decisive penalty to send Jamaica to Women’s World Cup

  • France 2019 marks Reggae Girlz's tournament debut. Buy tickets!

  • PSV defender talks playing in Europe, Jamaica's World Cup ambitions

As Dominique Bond-Flasza made the trek from the halfway line to the penalty spot, she knew what was at stake: convert this spot-kick and Jamaica go to their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The prize was great, the pressure enormous. But the 22-year-old had ice in her veins as she confidently stepped up and coolly slotted past Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey to clinch bronze at October’s CONCACAF Women's Championship for the Reggae Girlz, and with it, a coveted place at France 2019. It was a moment, though, the no-nonsense defender felt amply prepared for.

"Before that game, we practiced the full walk-up from the midway line to the penalty spot before taking penalty kicks just in case it came down to it," said Bond-Flasza, in conversation with "There’s a sense of ease when you know you’re prepared for a moment, so walking up to the spot I felt confident in myself to make that shot.

"It was an indescribable feeling helping Jamaica qualify for a Women’s World Cup for the first time," she continued. "Going back to that moment, our goalkeeper Nicole [McClure] had saved two penalties and it took the pressure off the shooters."

As the Reggae Girlz rejoiced on the pitch in Frisco, Texas, so too did their compatriots around the world. From the country’s Prime Minister to Olympic legend Usain Bolt, Jamaicans took to social media to share in the moment and pass on their congratulations.

It also sparked a feeling of déjà vu. Twenty-one years after the Reggae Boyz secured qualification to France 1998 – their only World Cup appearance to date – the Reggae Girlz will fly the flag in France once again in 2019. "It’s such a crazy coincidence," remarked Bond-Flasza, just an infant when Jamaica last graced football's global stage.

Football: the universal language

Born in New York to a Polish father and a Jamaican mother in 1996, Bond-Flasza spent many of her formative years in Canada before her family relocated again to southern California in her early teens.

"Because of soccer, I always fitted in wherever we moved just because it’s such a universal language," she said. "It’s easy to make friends when you’re passionate about the same thing, so moving around was actually kind of fun. It’s nice to experience different forms of soccer when you travel that much."

Well-travelled in North America, Bond-Flasza made the move to Europe from Seattle Sounders to sign for PSV Vrouwen in July 2018 and has enjoyed adapting to life and football in the Netherlands.

"The culture is amazing," she said. “The players are very technical and it’s really helped improve my game. I feel like I fit in well here. The competition level has been great for my improvement."

So, what are the differences between playing football in Europe and North America? "It’s pretty similar in that they both place emphasis on trying to play the game with a tiki-taka style – that emphasis of building up to goal.

"But the speed of play in the Dutch league is faster and took a little bit of adjustment in the first couple of weeks when I first started playing in the league."

Next stop: France

Next month, Jamaica will learn their Women’s World Cup opponents when the draw for France 2019 takes place on 8 December in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris. Of the 18 nations qualified so far, Hue Menzies’s side are currently the lowest-ranked, occupying 64th spot in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking.

But though small in stature, Jamaica will be going to France with big ambitions, according to Bond-Flasza.

"We’re not content with just qualifying – we want to prove that we belong there and truly compete," she asserted. "We’re going to fight to get out of that group stage and show the world that we’re a lot better than people think we are, and that we shouldn’t be underestimated."

Just as the Reggae Boyz possessed a family-like atmosphere in 1998, the Reggae Girlz’s similarly unbreakable team spirit will no doubt stand them in good stead in France next year.

"Camaraderie is everything," said Bond-Flasza. "The girls get along on and off the field – it’s so important that everyone has trust in one another."

Jamaica’s class of 1998 saw the likes of Robbie Earle, Ricardo Gardner and Theodore Whitmore showcase their ability in France. But now is the time of players such as Khadija Shaw, Jody Brown and Bond-Flasza. Now is the time of the Reggae Girlz.