Becky Spencer: “It was a big moment for me and my family”
Thu 17 June 2021, 11:30|Tottenham Hotspur
Goalkeeper Becky Spencer is relishing the opportunity after making her international debut for Jamaica last Thursday in Houston.
The 30-year-old’s decade of Barclays FA Women’s Super League (WSL) experience was on display as she registered a clean sheet and a typically commanding performance on her debut, making some fine saves to shut out an unpredictable Nigerian side.
Representing your country for the first time would be nerve-wracking for many, however, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that for a player with 90 WSL appearances, excitement was the overriding emotion as she stepped out onto the pitch.
“As nerves go, I was waiting for them to kick in but - as ever – I didn’t feel any, I was raring to get out there! The girls put me at ease from the outset,” she said. “I was excited to show what I can do. It probably started to sink in just after the national anthems, I switched into game mode and began to think about how I was going to perform.”
With the prospect of 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers in the Autumn and more opportunities to link up with the national team, Becky expressed her Dad’s pride at seeing her line up for his home country.
“Dad’s loving it! With the pandemic, there hasn’t been much for anyone to smile about recently, so it’s a breath of fresh air and something that my whole family can enjoy with me and be proud of.”
“It was a big moment for me and my family, especially my Dad’s side,” she smiled. “It was a proud moment to line up and sing the Jamaican national anthem. Dad’s advice was, ‘it’s a new experience, just try to enjoy and embrace it’. He was always proud when I played for England’s youth teams but because he’s Jamaican, he’s over the moon!”
“As you get older, I think you understand what your strengths are, I’m quite confident with that side of things and I like to think my calmness helps the defence. As that was our first camp together the key was to start to build partnerships on and off the pitch. The defenders played really well.”
At the beginning of her career, Becky represented England eight times at various youth levels and expressed how relieved she was to finally make her international debut for Jamaica.
“It’s been a long time coming, we’ve been in talks for the best part of two years now. Of course, COVID made everything little bit harder but once we got the ball rolling this time I was committed and ready to go for it.”
“Obviously going into a new environment isn’t easy and the girls hadn’t been together for 15 months, so it was a relief for everyone to get back together and be out on the pitch. I didn’t know what game I was going to play in when we arrived, so the suspense was there.
“I wasn’t actually expecting to play in the first game, I thought I might get an opportunity in the second game so I could settle in a little bit, but it was a welcome surprise,” she said.
“It was nice to face different opposition as well, I mean the last time I played against Nigeria was in an under-20’s World Cup and things have moved on a bit now, we’re all grown adults,” she laughed. “Nigeria are several places above Jamaica in the rankings, so it was a great feeling to get a win against them. It meant a lot to start the tournament on such a high.”
“I’ve got to be honest though, I don’t think I’ve experienced playing in heat like that, 39-40 degrees and humidity was something else! The girls did well to perform considering the conditions.”
It can be a daunting experience stepping into the unknown of a new environment for the first time, but the shot stopper admits her teammates helped alleviate any nerves.
“I know Vyan Sampson well, she had been to a camp before and gave me some insight on what to expect. I also spoke to Bunny Shaw [Jamaica’s top goalscorer], who wasn’t at the camp in the end, but I had a good conversation with her before I left. Bunny is a very experienced player, so it was great to speak to her. I met the other girls for the first time when I arrived.”
“The whole vibe of the camp was really relaxed; the girls all bring something different and there’s such a good team dynamic. The environment they’ve created made it easy for me to get involved, there was always music playing, someone dancing or making a joke.
“As you get older as well, it can be more difficult to step into the unknown, but it was a welcome change to be out of my comfort zone and experience something different. In English culture we tend to take ourselves quite seriously whereas the Jamaicans are chilled and laidback, so it was great to be part of that kind of environment.”
After so much time apart, squad rotation was a key part of Head Coach Hubert Busby Junior’s plans to assess his players over the two fixtures, subsequently Becky was an unused substitute for Jamaica’s second game of the tournament against USA.
The Reggae Girlz lost 4-0 to the reigning FIFA Women’s World Cup champions, result aside the match offered the opportunity to catch up with her former Spurs teammate, Alex Morgan.
“Yeah, we had a good chat after the game,” she smiled. “Even though she scored the fourth goal, it was really good to see her and find out how she’s getting on back in Orlando. She said that Charlie is running round and running riot. The game was past her bedtime otherwise she would have been there!”
With a first international cap under her belt, Becky is already looking forward to the next challenge and has her sights set on adding to her tally at the next camp.
“The qualifiers for the next World Cup start pretty soon, for me it’s about going back to Spurs, working hard and getting some minutes in preseason. Hopefully, I can put myself in contention for the next camp and perform as well as I possibly can.
“Everyone in the Jamaican team is keen to show we are not there to make up the numbers at the next World Cup, we want to compete and prove that we deserve to be there.”