Jamaica made history last night by becoming the first Caribbean team to qualify for the finals of a Gold Cup. Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes scored within five minutes of each other to put their side 2-1 ahead of the United States. The Americans pulled won back early in the second half through Michael Bradley. But in the end, the 2-1 deficit was too much for the red white and blues to overcome.
With Jamaica set to play Mexico this Sunday, there is perhaps no one more excited than Copa90 host Poet. We sat down with him to get his reactions about the game, and hear about what this result means to the Jamaican community in North London, and back at home.
Where did you watch the game?
I watched the game by myself with my mum at her house, and it was quite epic, I won’t lie to you. The game started at 11pm, so it was late.
What was your reaction at 2-0 up?
It was different to watching Arsenal. When Arsenal goes 2-0 up you celebrate, but you expect it. When Jamaica went up I sat there for 5 minutes wondering what happened. I didn’t know what to do with myself until I ran to my mom saying “we're 2-0 up”, then my sister came down and we all just started screaming. It was surreal, maybe the greatest football moment I’ve had in a while.
What did you do after the final whistle?
At the final whistle I phoned all my friends in Tottenham and asked where they were. They were all at this party in West Green road. And the thing about West Green road is, it’s heavily influenced by the Caribbean. So there are hairdressers, bakers, and dance hall culture. We went out the there and everyone was on the street. We were drinking Magnum, dancing... it was a full on party.
What does this to mean to Jamaicans out in London?
For Jamaicans out here, it's massive because it means we will be taken seriously when it comes to football. Hopefully it will mean that more young Jamaicans will come to play out here.
Secondly, Jamaicans love a party, and any chance to do that is great. So, last night when we went out to celebrate this achievement, the English did not know what we had done, and when they found out they said congratulations.
Most important is that a lot of Jamaicans are from working class areas. So there are not many reasons to smile. Particularly in the last 6 weeks there have been so many killings in the Jamaican community, that this game was huge for us. I saw people who had lost family in the last couple of weeks celebrating last night. So I have to thank the Jamaican team because they gave these communities a reason to look on the bright side.
If they win…. I mean we have already won, but Gary Neville once said “I would rather be tempted by success than experience failure”. I thought 'you know what, I would have rather lost in the semi’s than lose in the final'. But there is an actual belief now that we can win the Gold Cup, and if we win it, the players will come home and be greeted as heroes. I reckon my family will fly out there!
And back in Jamaica?
What people need to realise is that we are a really small nation. And sport is one thing that unites people across social classes and nations. In Jamaica, the only thing we have had to celebrate recently has been Usain Bolt. We look forward to seeing the 100 meters because it’s a sporting event we can be proud of. So when our football team, that we don’t expect much of, has made it all the way to the final it unites the nation, it sheds more light, making Jamaicans believe they can be footballers. It gives them something to aspire to. Because in Jamaica, you either want to be a musician like Bob Marley or Vibez Kartel, or you try and become a sprinter like Usain Bolt. But now in 2015 there are people in Jamaica who are going to say I want to be a footballer and that will inspire them to do it.