Monday 17 June 2019, 15:54

Cheyna Matthews, Jamaica’s super mom

  • Cheyna Matthews gave birth just nine months ago

  • She fought her way back to fitness in time for France 2019

  • LIVE BLOG: Follow the build-up to Jamaica-Italy

By Kayon Davis with Jamaica

At a time when she might have been expected to be in the midst of post-partum recovery, Reggae Girl Cheyna Matthews was on the pitch in Kingston, training. That was five months ago.

Her son, Josiah, is now nine months old. He’s old enough to notice that mommy is not always around but has been cheering her on as she represents her country at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This is the first time Matthews has been away from her son, whom she weaned just before coming to France. She credits the support she gets from her family for making her dream possible. Her mother and Josiah recently joined her in Grenoble while her husband, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jordan Matthews, will be here to see her lace up against Australia on Tuesday.

Matthews was born in Atlanta, USA, and her mother, Corinia Williams, is from Kensington in Portland, Jamaica. Cheyna fondly recalls going back to her mother’s homeland to visit her grandparents and other family members when she was young.

Now she is representing Jamaica in the Women’s World Cup. “It is more than I could have imagined so far,” she told us. “It’s been amazing.”

Kathellen of Brazil battles for possession with Cheyna Matthews of Jamaica 

Asked about being a new mother at the Women’s World Cup, she said, “It’s empowering. My goal every time I’m out there is to not look like I just had a baby nine months ago. And obviously, to help my team get results - that’s the next step.”

Matthews also spoke about attending camp and getting in shape four months postpartum. “I had the motivation and I also had a great trainer, Matt Siniscalchi. He worked my butt off and I didn’t have any setbacks. Coming into camp to do pretty well on the beep test was a reward in itself.”

A beep test, also known as multi-stage fitness test, is a timed test which offers a standardised evaluation of an athlete’s fitness. As the test progresses the beeps gets shorter and ends when the subject stops running.

Physical Trainer Will Hitzelberger, who oversees the strength conditioning, fitness, recovery and nutrition for the Reggae Girlz, weighed in on Cheyna’s recovery.

“I first met Cheyna at a large camp in January this year when we brought in 32 players. She had her baby with her. We definitely took some precautions but she did really well with it. She improved her time by 56 per cent in a short space of time. I don’t think the average person would know that she had a baby.”

Cheyna Matthews of Jamaica poses for a portrait

“Her time was off the charts, it was exceptional, especially for someone who had just given birth,” echoed assistant coach Lorne Donaldson. “That’s how we knew she was ready.”

According to Cheyna, abdominal pain and groin strength were the two most noticeable issues Matthews experienced when she went back to training. She credits her yoga sessions and strength training, which helped to build her lower abs and core for improved mobility.

Matthews currently plays for the Washington Spirit in USA’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and has scored two goals and one assist so far this season. Having been nursing a minor injury that kept her sidelined for the Reggae Girlz’s encounter with Italy, she has been declared fit and is expected to play against Australia.