Chamblee Soccer Star Bound for 2019 World Cup


Giselle Washington, third from right, and other members of the Jamaican National Women's Soccer Team. Photo courtesy of Taylor Baucom for The Players' Tribune.

Hope Williams, Staff writer

The soccer season may not start until the spring, but one Chamblee Charter High School athlete has been focused on soccer for the last few weeks at an international level. Senior Giselle Washington plays for the Jamaican National Women’s Soccer Team and just participated in a tournament sending her and her team to the World Cup.

“I was participating in the CONCACAF [Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football] Women’s World Cup Qualifiers. The first leg of the tournament was in McAllen, Texas and the semi[finals], finals, and third place game were in Dallas, Texas,” said Washington. “I was in Texas for about two and a half weeks.”

Although Washington lives in Atlanta, her Jamaican heritage, as well as hard work and talent, got her a spot on the team.

“My mom was born in Kingston, Jamaica, so since I am of Jamaican descent, I am eligible to play for the team,” said Washington.

She has found the experience to be incredibly rewarding.

“It is really awesome to learn about my ethnicity and experience a different culture,” said Washington.

Washington’s journey to this point has been quite long.

“I have been playing soccer since I was about four years old when I played [recreationally] at the YMCA,” said Washington. “My mom just put me in there to give me something to do and then it grew into something more.”

Recently though, her participation through a club team, Concorde Fire, gave her a chance to make connections.
“My club coach knows the Jamaican head coach so my club coach told him to come out to scout me at one of out showcases for ECNL [Elite Clubs National League],” said Washington. “After that, he asked me to join the team.”

The most recent CONCACAF tournament was not her and her team’s first step to reach the World Cup.

“Before the CONCACAF tournament we had to play in the Caribbean qualifiers tournament,” said Washington. “The top three teams from that tournament move on to the CONCACAF and we won that tournament.”

Any soccer fan knows that the group stage placement can be important in determining your success.

“They [the officials] gave us the drawing for the two groups in the CONCACAF,” said Washington. “We were grouped with Canada, Panama, and Costa Rica which put us in a good position to come in first or second in the group and move on to the semi[finals].”

One of the notetable highlights from the CONCACAF tournament was playing against the United States soccer team.
“The game against the US was pretty crazy,” said Washington. “There was a ton of people there because it was their home field. This was also the full national team, not the youth, so I’ve been watching them for years.”

There was definitely a psychological aspect to their performance in the game.

“We just had to keep telling ourselves that it was just another game and not make it any more than what it was,” said Washington.

Their final game, however, was the defining moment for Washington.

“The best moment was definitely after we scored the last PK [penalty kick] against Panama that sent us through to the World Cup for the first time ever,” said Washington. “We all sprinted over and made a dog pile. It was such an amazing feeling that is impossible to put into words.”

Now, Washington is back at school and must face another type of challenge: schoolwork.

“Doing both school and soccer at a high level is extremely hard,” said Washington. “I have to miss out on a lot of things but it ends up paying off.”

After several years of competing, Washington has a system for balancing the two.

“When I’m leaving I try to let my teachers know before so they can give me things to work on so I won’t be so backed up when I get back,” said Washington. “Other than that, it’s just a lot of late nights and early mornings to keep my grades up.” 

After graduation, Washington has an exciting future ahead of her.

“I plan on participating in the World Cup in France 2019 and I am committed to play soccer in college at the University of Tennessee,” said Washington.

Not matter where she’s playing soccer, Washington has many reasons to enjoy it.

“My favorite thing about soccer is just competing,” said Washington. “ It takes my mind off of things and relieves stress. I just love to win and work hard to get the results I want.”