Tarania Clarke, the Jamaican female soccer star, was stabbed to death on October 31 in Kingston. Clarke, who also went by the nickname “Plum-Plum,” was 20 years old. She was killed a few days after her birthday. A suspect is in custody, police in Jamaica have said.
Clarke played as a midfielder and defender for Jamaica’s national team, known as the Reggae Girlz, according to her official national profile.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect in the Stabbing Has Been Referred to as a ‘Friend’ of Clarke’s’
The Associated Press reports that Clarke was in a fight with another woman over a cellphone when she was stabbed. The suspect in the stabbing has not been named. The Jamaica Gleaner has referred to the suspect as one of Clarke’s friends in their reporting on the tragedy.
A statement from the police in Jamaica said that the stabbing occurred at around 8:50 p.m. local time in the Half-Way Tree neighborhood of Kingston.
2. Clarke Scored Her First Goal for Her Country in September 2019
Clarke played her club soccer for Waterhouse FC. She made her debut for the Reggae Girlz in a 12-1 win over Cuba in an Olympic qualifier in September 2019. Clarke also scored in the tenth goal in the game. Clarke had also represented her country in the Pan Am Games in Peru as well as playing for Jamaica in a pre-World Cup game against Nottingham Forest in England.
3. Clarke Missed Out on Playing for the Jamaican Team at the 2019 World Cup
In January 2019, Clarke told the Jamaica Star that she was hopeful of making the Jamaican national team for the 2019 World Cup. Clarke said that she was working with the national team’s fitness coach, Jason Henry, as well as the team’s head coach, Will Hitzelberger, in an attempt to get up to the fitness level required.
Clarke told the newspaper, “I have some time, although I have to go back to school. I have schoolgirl league coming up, and even though the training for that is not as hard as it should be, I just have to put in the work… I’ve played with them before. I’m coming up with some of them from Under-17 and Under- 20s so I’m used to them. Yes, some of them are new, but it’s good. The girls are nice and we always blend in together as one team.”
4. Clarke’s Death Is Being Mourned in Statements From Jamaican Soccer Officials
The Jamaican Football Federation president Michael Ricketts said in a statement, via the BBC, “The JFF is deeply saddened by the untimely passing of young Ms Clarke – someone who would have shown so much promise, not just as a player but as a person. I must use this opportunity to personally, and certainly on behalf of the JFF, extend my most profound condolences to the immediate family members and friends of Ms Clarke, her school family at Excelsior and, of course, her club Waterhouse. The JFF must give as much support as we can during this time of bereavement to her mother and close friends.”
While the JFF Women’s Football Committee chairperson Elaine Walker-Brown said of Clarke, “Honestly, this one hits me, this one hits me hard.”
A separate statement from the Jamaican Football Federation read, “In the year when our senior Reggae Girlz participated in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the nation celebrated, the country must now mourn the tragic passing of one of its most talented local-based players, Tarania ‘Plum Plum’ Clarke who was stabbed to death on Thursday night.”
5. Clarke Was the MVP & Captain of Her Hugely Successful High School Soccer Team
Clarke had graduated from Excelsior High School in Kingston in 2018, where she was the captain of the school’s female soccer team. Clarke’s high school coach Xavier Gilbert told Sports Max after hearing of her tragic passing, “We were very close. She was captain for the last three years and was a wonderful leader, a wonderful person… It hurts right now. It’s really sad. She did not deserve this. This really rough right now.” Gilbert added that Clarke was due to attend Daytona University in Florida in January 2020 and was in the final stages of completing her paperwork for the move.
Clarke’s team, with her as captain, won the school’s championship in her senior year in high school in 2018. Clarke also won the league’s award for the best defender and was the team’s MVP, according to the Jamaica Observer. In the championship game, Clarke scored her team’s opening goal and set up the second. Clarke told the Jamaica Star after achieving the victory, “I am very elated knowing that my team came here and were well prepared and we executed what we have learned in training. Most of the plays that you see in the second half are things that we practiced in training.”