Sydney Schneider, the goalkeeper for Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz football team, was featured on news network CNN for the “tremendous saves” she made during her first FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance. Schneider,19 years old and has just completed her junior year studies in exercise science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, had a stand-out performance in the Reggae Girlz Group C match against Brazil, considered one of the best teams in the world. While Jamaica was the clear underdog, and while the Brazilians won with a score of 3 to 0, Schneider was instrumental in keeping her team’s hopes alive when she made a spectacular penalty save in the match on June 9, 2019, in France. The Jamaican goalie did not even begin to play football until just a few years ago. Now, she has made her mark on the world stage and even caught the attention of Jamaica’s champion Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt, who commented about her on Twitter.
Although most professional players begin their training early in their lives, Schneider was well into her teen years before she played serious football. As she tells it, her team was at a tournament, and her coach “threw’ her into the game, “probably because of my height (she is 5 feet, 10 inches tall),” she said, adding “I ended up being pretty decent at it.” She went on to play in the Elite Clubs National League at the age of 16, and after three years, earned a place on the senior team and played for the youth national teams of Jamaica.
Schneider, who is from Dayton, New Jersey, has maternal grandparents from Jamaica, and her father, who is a soccer coach, comes from Germany. In the beginning, Schneider was not confident about her ability to play at the college level, but she started in all 19 games her freshman year. Schneider is only the second goalkeeper at her university’s history to play every second of an entire season. She is ranked Number 4 in the Colonial Athlete Association with 1.13 goals against average and stopped 74.1 percent of the shots that came her way.
Although she is now part of the history-making Reggae Girlz team, the first from the Caribbean to make it toe FIFA Women’s World Cup, she had rejected the first offer she had to play for the Jamaican team in 2015. She was focusing her attention on college at the time, but in 2018, she accepted a second offer to join the Jamaican squad during the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-17 Championship in Grenada.
Schneider was named Player of the Match in 2018, and despite her youth, she was chosen to play for Jamaica at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. During that tournament, she made an astounding six saves and helper her team to a 1-9 victory over Costa Rica, one of the favorites at the tournament.