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Trudi Carter is Arnett Gardens’ golden girl

After giving birth to two sons, Lucille Hamilton prayed earnestly to have a girl, and anticipated dressing her up in little frilly dresses and socks and stockings, complemented with hair clips and ribbons.

She got her heart's desire when she gave birth to Trudi Carter, but there was not much 'dollying', because even as a toddler, Carter chose football gear over dresses and dolls. Fast forward to 2023 and Carter is living her dream, representing Jamaica's Reggae Girlz at the FIFA Women's World Cup, currently under way in Australia and New Zealand. She is supported not only by her family but the entire Arnett Gardens community in South St Andrew where she resides. The 28-year-old forward and midfielder was instrumental in Jamaica's only goal so far, against Panama. The Reggae Girlz drew with France in their opening game, and then against Brazil yesterday, booking their place in the knockout round.

Sitting outside their family's home, Hamilton and other relatives, who were all decked in the national colours, recalled when she spotted her daughter's talent. As she started Jones Town Primary School, Carter's interest in football grew tremendously.

"She buck out every shoes front, enuh, because she love play ball, and when she really small she save her lunch money and buy her first boots. She start team up with my grandnephew who play football and she would go to training with him. I am grateful that the coach at Iris Gelly [Primary School] where my grandnephew train and attend never turn her away. He allowed her to train," Hamilton said. Carter she said, made history at Jones Town when she began playing football with the boys team.

"The coach at Jones Town Primary put her on the football team and he motivated her. She then start attend Trench Town High School and the coach put her on TVJ a play 'keeping up' (juggling the ball) and that's how the coach from the Jamaica team saw her and said he wanted her to be a part of the national team," Hamilton said.

Holding on to one of Carter's numerous trophies, Hamilton recalled when she joined the under-17 national team. She worried about Carter's petite size, but was told her small stature was not an issue. Hamilton said in 2019 she beamed with pride as she was given the opportunity to travel to France to watch her daughter play.

"It was the first time I was ever going on a plane, thanks to mi daughter. It was very good and mi feel good that she is a part of the team because she always say she want to play professional football and go to the World Cup, and thank God I am here and get to witness that. Mi only daughter that, but she turn out in a little bwoy," she said between giggles.

Carter's family keeps a scrapbook that dates back to 2008 with newspaper interviews about her. Her cousin Tassia Lewis said words could not describe seeing her relative on television at a World Cup.

"I feel gratified and very proud of Trudi and happy for her at the same time to know that this is something that she has always wanted and dreamt of," Lewis said.

Carter's aunt Patricia said that Carter is from a family of footballers and is cousin to Byron Earle, a former national player and Arnett legend.

"Sometimes on Saturday she would go over by 'Race Course' over by Wolmer's. We would wake in the morning and nuh see har, and when we look, she is the only girl in the middle of the boys. Sometimes she look drunk from the sun and she look weary. She could play ball for the entire day and don't tired. She just always a make history," Patricia said.

The lane in which Carter resides is decorated with the national colours and the number 18 is plastered everywhere.

"We texted and I tell her congratulations and she tell mi thanks. Mi text her and never call because mi know she in the celebration mood with her teammates and mi never wah break it," Hamilton said.