Jamaica make history as they progress through to the Round of 16 for the first time

You can hear them long before they arrive.

You can feel them, actually, in your chest, in the soles of your feet.

Drums.

They’re approaching the stadium, surrounded by a sea of energetic bodies clad in green and yellow. Brazil’s fans are committed to their beloved national team if nothing else.

They’re ready to drum, sing, dance, and cheer for the full 90 minutes of the game against Jamaica. They’ve even brought a tifo for Marta, legend of the women’s game, who is playing her last Women’s World Cup game, not that anyone knew that then.

While Marta had revealed prior to the start of the World Cup that this was going to be her last, few expected Brazil to be sent home in the group stage by Jamaica, a team that defied all odds, who, after being ignored by their federation, had to raise the money to get to Australia themselves through a GoFundMe.

Throughout the first half, Jamaica fended off attack after attack from the Brazilians with solid defending that left Brazil frustrated and goal-less. Jamaican keeper Rebecca Spencer’s safe hands found almost every ball sent into the six-yard box.

Rebecca Spencer by Imago Images


The roar from the crowd was deafening at Brazil’s forward runs, drums hammering away keeping the fans in time and guiding the chants.

Marta leaves the pitch in the 81st minute to thunderous applause, Brazil still needing to break the deadlock, and Jamaica still looking to hold the draw or find a goal themselves.

In the final play of the game, Brazil wins a very late corner. Almost every single person in the stadium has risen to their feet, all 27,638 of them.

The delivery comes in, the drums ring out, and both Zaneratto and Debinha attempt a header, but Jamaica holds strong, and Drew Spence comes through to clear.

A nil-all scoreline at the final whistle means Jamaica makes history and progresses through to the next round for the first time in their federation’s history. It won’t allow for Brazil to progress and Marta’s historic career at the Women’s World Cup comes to an end.

Despite it all, Marta has the time to share a moment with star Jamaican striker Khajida “Bunny” Shaw, one that shows exactly why she is so revered.

“She congratulated us on the performance and said that we inspire her because no matter what, with the lack of resources, the lack of funding we keep going. She said we’re here for a reason and she’s now supporting us moving forward,” said Shaw.

“She was my inspiration growing up, she still is.”

Bunny Shaw and Marta share a moment post-match. Photo: Getty Images


In a post-game interview, Marta speaks about the future of women’s football, “for me, it’s the end of the line now, for them it’s just the beginning,” she says.

“I end here, but they continue.”

The drums keep beating.