“I could be the one to change football in Jamaica,” Khadija Shaw remembers thinking as a determined teenager.
Boldly, she did not want to be defined by the problems of Spanish Town, the Jamaican city where she grew up, instead she preferred to challenge the narrative given to local girls.
But nothing compares to Khadija, who is nicknamed ‘Bunny’ because of her love of carrots. “It was like a waste of time,” he said in an interview and the BBC after sealing a move to Manchester City in 2021. He talks about how his parents saw football as a possible career – not that it wasn’t real, it was seen as dangerous.
“My parents didn’t let me play because I didn’t have the space,” he recalls.
However Bunny, undeterred by various critics, set out to rewrite the script. He refused to be placed in the hands of an unbeliever. She wanted to prove that her desire to succeed could surpass any outward desire to conform to the usual image of a Jamaican girl.
“One day I was like ‘let’s get together – I’ve passed my test and you’re letting me play,'” he confidently told his skeptical family. Fast forward to 2022 and the future is in full swing – nationally and internationally.
It’s not a well-trodden path, but it’s one that Shaw forged with a combination of determination, determination and raw talent. There is a touching joy to his journey.
Every time Shaw dons the blue of Man City – one of the “best clubs in the world,” he believes – he plays with a point of affirmation. No chance to be wasted, certainly not this season.
Shaw stepped into the role vacated by outgoing actress Ellen White with much promise. A prolific player, the player has scored more goals than any other player in the Women’s Super League this term. He has scored in all but one of his six games.
With many questioning how City would cope after losing their top scorer in the summer, White opted to call time on the game, but fears have subsided. Shaw is the answer.
Power, speed, and accuracy – he has it all. Sitting in the 9th position for perhaps the best time, Shaw looks in every direction, helped a little by two of the most killed players in the league.
Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly join Shaw to form a formidable front three. Aged 23-and-a-half years, the trio has the potential to wreak havoc on opposition defenses for years to come.
Hemp has created more chances from open play than any other player in the WSL this season (16), while Kelly is also adept at floating crosses to his central striker, who is often in the back of the net. Indeed, no team has scored more headers than Man City this season (five). Four of them were written by Shaw.
His impressive two-goal haul against Tottenham at the end of October prompted manager Gareth Taylor to issue a warning about the performance of his strikers – “there’s more to come,” he said. Not what Everton want to hear in front of the WSL this week, move on Sky Sports.
He has assumed the role of wearing number 9 in the team.
“He had a good season last year, but people overlook that… He has taken on the responsibility of wearing the number 9 at this club,” added Taylor.
It was the sense of community that drew Shaw to the game as a youngster, but now he’s excited to tread the path that could put him in the league. His background is unique and so is his style of play, driven by an unbridled determination that translates on the pitch as a hatred of goals.
Diminishing Bunny’s interest is something Everton will have to deal with if they are to have any chance of beating an unbeaten team in the league.
Man City have won all 12 of their meetings against the Toffees, the best 100% record against any team in WSL history.
“I’m always going to be positive and encouraging because it’s impossible,” Shaw said mancity.com in the near future. Of course, the 25-year-old’s opinion is very different – everything is possible. He is a trailblazer in his field and one who will stop short.
Not many players can claim to have played for their country at the age of 13 – by the following year, he represented Jamaica Under-17s and Under-20s. Now, she is Jamaica’s all-time leading scorer, male or female, with 56 goals in 38 games.
There are a few names that come to mind when looking at the WSL’s progress. Chelsea have Sam Kerr. Arsenal have Vivianne Miedma. However, this year, the inevitability of Shaw’s presence in the box should cause things like the campaign to zigzag inexplicably. You feel that the time is now.
Will it be enough to power Man City to glory in the 2022/23 season, despite a rocky start? Well, winning in the face of adversity is what Shaw does best. This season is just the latest chapter in his independent story.
Watch Everton vs Manchester City live on Sky Sports Main Event on Saturday from 2.30pm; from 3 pm.