Nelson remembered as mentor, mother figure
A mentor and a mother figure. Those were just some of the many qualities used to remember and honour the life of former national senior women's team manager Jean Nelson during her funeral yesterday at the Delapenha Chapel in St Andrew.
A small group of her family, friends as well as members of the football community paid tribute to her life and her service to football, which included playing an instrumental role in the formation of the national women's league in the 1990s as well as serving as Jamaica Women's Football Association president.
In his tribute to Nelson who passed away after a short illness on September 11, Jamaica Football Federation general secretary Dalton Wint said that her dedication and her passion for the game were only matched by the way she related to others, specifically members of the senior women's team.
"I could stand here and give stories about the many memories we shared about all the grand plans for the Reggae Girlz. I say her Girlz because she embraced each Reggae Girl as if they were her own. The true definition of a girls' mom, not just to one but to all," Wint said. "Jean was a kind, selfless woman of God who left a positive impact on everyone who she interacted with throughout her years."
Nelson joined the women's programme in 2014 and the highlight of her tenure was being a part of Jamaica's historic qualification for the Women's World Cup in France in 2019. Among those who honoured her were national goalkeeper Nicole McClure who, in a video tribute, recalled a moment on their way to training where she saw another side of Nelson, who was normally stoic and serious when it came to business matters.
"An Everton Blender song came on and Miss Nelson was sitting behind me and I could hear her murmuring the words and I glanced behind me and she was in the zone and her face lit up," McClure said. "That was a special moment for me because I finally saw a different side of her. Even though she was on the clock, she took a moment to be in the moment and that was really special."
National senior men's team manager Roy Simpson celebrated her commitment to the game and said he felt that her work in football was her responding to a higher calling, although she had various opportunities to return to the corporate world where she worked for many years previously.
"Her service, her passion, her patriotism and her love for this beautiful game would not be derailed because she was simply doing her Father's will. Her passion was better spent channelling her energies among the people with whom she came into contact. As a football family, we must stick close to her family to lend them support," Simpson said. "We must be compelled to keep her memory alive and share with her offspring her legacy of decency, discipline, commitment, service, passion and patriotism."
Reggae Girlz head coach Hubert Busby Jr said in his short tribute that, as a group, they would do everything they can to "honour her going forward".