Get to Know
Khadija "Bunny" Shaw
Jamaican Khadija Shaw, better known as Bunny, is set to have a standout tournament this summer in France. At just 22 years of age, Bunny already has 27 caps and 32 goals for her national team. In the run up to France, she is the leading goalscorer across all qualification games for any federation, and has helped lead her team to the first ever appearance for a Caribbean nation at a women's tournament of this magnitude.
Hometown: Spanish Town, Jamaica
University: University of Tennessee
Boot: Mercurial Vapor
Favourite Athlete: Serena Williams
Favourite Jamaican Food: Jerk Chicken
QUESTION AND ANSWER
How did you first start playing football?
When I was growing up, I would always see the boys playing football in the streets, and I was curious to know what was so special about this sport. One day I asked my dad to buy me a ball without my mum knowing, and I would hide the ball whenever she was around. When she would leave, I would take it out and play countless times with it. One day I told her, "Mum, you know I love this sport and I really want to play". She reminded me that the opportunity is just not here in [Jamaica]. And I told her, "Mum, you never know—maybe I can be the one to make something happen". When I got a university scholarship from playing with the Jamaican national team, then she saw what I was saying was actually true.
How has football evolved in Jamaica? When you go home, what do you see?
In the final run of the qualification round, some kids from the community were at the game—young girls and boys who really want to play football and want to see what it is like at one of the highest levels. After we won the championship, we went over to talk to them. You could see the smiles on their faces and how happy there were. They hugged us and said, "You guys are making us so proud. Keep doing what you're doing because it's inspiring all of us". Qualifying for France is an even bigger step to seeing what can happen in the future for Jamaica in football and sport.
What does it mean to you for Jamaica to qualify for this tournament?
It's a dream come true for me. It opens the eyes of not only Jamaica but also the Caribbean, because if we can do it, other countries can too. It can only go up from here because when you go to this tournament, you gain experience and exposure. People ask me what it felt like when we qualified—I don't even have words. I just knelt down on the pitch and was like, "What is this? What did I just do?" Now I can brag about it and talk about it every day for the rest of my life!
Do you feel your role in sport has helped change barriers for future generations?
From what I've been through in my past and where I am now, I think younger kids looking on can see I've been through a lot and yet managed to accomplish all that I've done. People can always talk and always say stuff, but it's about what you do. What I've accomplished comes from hard work and perseverance and sacrifice. That's one of the main things that I think could change in women's sport.