Now that the Reggae Girlz, are on a Roll, making it through the First Round into the Round of last sixteen, All the Waggonist have crawled out of the woodwork, to claim and or identify, with the progress of Jamaica’s National Football Women’s Team. Not surprisingly, the Government and its agents have stepped forward to try and control the narrative, of the Reggae Girlz, progress on the road to Australia, to compete in the World Federation Women’s Football World Cup.
The records show, however, that in the early days of their “Road To The World Cup Campaign”, Cedella Marley, was the lone voice in the wilderness, not only raising funds for the Reggae Girlz, she was instrumental in redesigning, their Uniform, and funding that too; and generally acted as their Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, in marshaling the efforts to get the Reggae Girls to Qualify For FIFA World Cup, First, in2015, then again in 2019, when the Girlz qualified for France, but due to inexperience and the stress of prepping, made an early exit. But the experience gained then, placed them in good stead, to Qualify for World Cup 2023, in Australia.
Well against all the Odds, the Reggae Girlz not only qualified for World Cup 2023; they have been creating historical waves along the way.
For those only now identifying with the Reggae Girlz, it is instructive to note and remember, that Cedella Marley, started mentoring and working with the Reggae Girlz, in 2008, after her son Skip, introduced her to the struggles of the team through a flyer he brought home, that was a fundraising tool for the team.
This is after the Jamaica Football Federation had not only Cut Funding to the Women’s Football Program but had disbanded the program in its entirety.
It was at this juncture, that Cedella Marley completely immersed herself in the project of reviving Women’s Football, at the National level. And her commitment was evidenced by the fact that, she sunk a lot of her own personal funds into reviving the National program; Along with writing a song (Strike Hard) in dedication to the efforts of and in support of the Team.
She never wavered in her commitment and when the Jamaica Football Federation; the Government Of Jamaica, And Corporate Jamaica, kept their stoic distance, the erstwhile Ms. Marley, enlisted the aid of her friends and the Bob Marley Foundation, to assist in maintaining the program.
When things got Tuff, in the early days, Ms. Marley resorted to Crowd-funding, to keep the program alive, and her “Strike Hard for the Reggae Girlz!”, campaign netted $50,000 to assist the Reggae Girlz, to prepare for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship tournament which took place in the USA. And so, the Girlz were back in the International game, with a new lease on life, due to the initiatives of Cedella Marley.
Despite failing to secure a place at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, the foundations were in place and this culminated with 2018 qualification for the France 2019 tournament after beating Canada on penalties to advance.
The Reggae Girlz did not shine in France in 2019, but the experience was invaluable, and Cedella, did not give up. She regrouped, repurposed and refocussed her efforts, determined that the team would make the breakthrough.
And they did, and this time with a WoW! In 2019, Jamaica became the first Caribbean Country to ever qualify for the World Cup. In 2023, They upped the ante, becoming the First Caribbean Country to Qualify for back-to-back world Cup; one of the 3-Countries in the history of the Cup, not to have conceded any goals going into the next round; were unbeaten and were the first ever Caribbean team, Men or Women, to advance to the second round of any FIFA World Cup.
Now that the team has fought and clawed its way into the second round, every would-be supporter is coming out of the woodwork to claim some kind of parental right, for the team’s progress. And Not only claiming parental rights, but actively disputing the facts of the team’s journey to the second round of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia.
Clearly embarrassed by the team’s progress, The Government, Via Its INformation Minister; The JFF, and others, now seek to create an ‘alternative set of facts’, and a more pleasant narrative, to explain away their lack of support or adequate support for the team at the beginning of the Journey.
Fact is the team hustled their tootsies off, to get to Australia, They used GoFundMe, as well as The Reggae Girlz Foundation and both entities/efforts raised more than $45,000 each before the tournament. The funds reportedly helped the team pay for travel, food expenses, a place to practice, as well as supporting staff to bring along to the tournament. And lest we forget, just before the start of the tournament, the team spoke out against the Jamaica Football Federation for subpar planning, transportation, accommodations, training conditions, compensation, communication, nutrition, and accessibility to proper resources.
And the Sporting Ministry, Corporate Jamaica, and even the JFF, excepting for seeking to silence the Girlz for their biting criticisms, all ignored the pleas of the Girlz.
Mind you, the JFF says it spent a whopping 3 million US, on the Girlz Australian Campaign, few dispute that. The dispute is not if the Money, as stated by the JFF, was spent, but how it was spent.
It was the dire needs of the Girlz, occasioned by the impending Australian Finals, that stirred Lee Phillips, (a Mother Of a Reggae Girlz), to intervene by establishing a GoFundMe account, to assist with offsetting attendant costs, that would ensure the Girlz’s arrival in Australia, and their participation in the World Cup, if not at their optimum, then certainly, their next best.
To date, the GoFundMe effort has raised US$67,500 And Counting, But please note, a lot more funds started pouring in after the Girlz secured their berth in the knockout stages. And of the amount donated, each team member had received a ‘subvention’ of US$1500, individually.
We now hear that The Sports Minister will be forwarding another US$2500.00, to each of the Girlz individual accounts, to help tithe them over. And no doubt, depending on how the Girlz progress, in the second round, there will be more promises of goodies from the Government such as promises of Lots, Duty-free vehicles; and even a few National Honours, thrown in like Confetti.
But before we lose sight of the struggles of the Girlz, and Cedella Marley’s vision and drive, as we rush and fall over ourselves to laud them, let us ask ourselves, Where were the Government of Jamaica, the Football Federation, and Corporate Jamaica, when the Reggae Girlz, needed them?
We recall, the rush of Corporate Jamaica, to finance the doomed campaign of our Foreign Minister for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General, despite the fact that there was no vacancy; We recall The Ministry Of Sports Making A Donation of US$10,000.00 to Singer Etana, who was about to embark on a private musical money-making tour; and we recall the generosity of the Tourism Ministry and TPDCo, to Corporate entities in providing sponsorship support for private endeavours, under the guise that such expenditures would bring great exposure to Brand Jamaica?
So, tell us, the geniuses at the Tourism Ministry and TPDCo, did not see the benefits of partnering with the Sports Ministry, to offer financial support/sponsorship, to the Reggae Girlz, using the same matrix it uses for its lavish support of private enterprise such as Sumfest?
Let this be a teachable moment, one that we never forget, that in the year of our 61st Independence anniversary, the Jamaica National Football Women’s team had to pass the hat around, to fund its appearance at the 2023, FIFA Women’s World Cup of Football, because those who lead us at all level, lacked vision, foresight and National Pride!
But Ask yourselves the question: Would This Level Of Disrespect, HaveBeen Accorded to The Reggae Boys?
If You Know the Answer, Then You will begin to understand why Cedella Marley, is the only ‘Organization’ deserving of praise when it comes to celebrating the Reggae Girlz’s Progress…
And to add injuries to the insult already inflicted, Here Comes The Clueless Minister Of Sports, “Warning” The Captain Of The Team, To Be Careful not to Cause Shame To Jamaica’s reputation, in her public utterances.
Can Someone tell the Minister, Political Pressure Is Not What The Team Needs as it heads into the Knockout Stages of the World Cup??