Another big step for Jamaican women in football

Saturday, December 01, 2018

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President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Mr Michael Ricketts is understandably exultant.

“What an excellent year for women in football!” he is quoted as saying in a release revealing that two Jamaican Assistant FIFA Referees, Ms Stephanie Yee-Sing and Princess Brown, will officiate in today's Final of the 2018 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup between Mexico and Spain in Uruguay.

Indeed. For the honour extended to Ms Yee-Sing and Brown follows hard on the heels of the stunning, against-the-odds achievement in October by Jamaica's national women's team, the Reggae Girlz, in qualifying for next year's FIFA World Cup in France.

As explained by the JFF release, this is the first time that any match official, male or female, from the Caribbean will officiate in a World Cup Final.

The release says both Ms Yee-Sing and Brown have been refereeing for approximately six years and have officiated in previous Under-17 and Senior World Cup events, but never in a Final.

We are aware that male football match officials have paved the way in terms of participation at FIFA World Cup events.

Among those we recall, Mr Owen Powell, who was an assistant referee at the 1998 World Cup in France, the very first Jamaican to officiate at that level. Coincidentally Mr Powell's achievement then, matched that of the national men's team, the Reggae Boyz.

Then in 2002, the undisputed doyen of football refereeing in Jamaica, Mr Peter Prendergast, officiated at the FIFA World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

From this newspaper's perspective, this global recognition of Ms Yee-Sing and Brown is a natural continuation of the drive by Jamaican women to take their rightful place in sport and in all aspects of national life.

Those who follow Jamaican football can't have missed the growing number of women involved in officiating — a task often made difficult by the irreverent, sometimes outrageously disrespectful attitude of many among the fan base.

We note Mr Ricketts's comment that the achievement of Ms Yee-Sing and Brown serves as “a testimony to years of extremely hard work, discipline, guidance by instructors, courage and dedication”.

And further that the JFF “is particularly proud because this achievement falls well within the strategic goals of the Federation for the women's programme which is to increase the quantity and quality of women in the sport as players, administrators, coaches and match officials”.

This newspaper yearns for the day when women will be putting themselves forward in numbers to actually run Jamaica's football from offices and boardrooms. The practical, sober good sense and dedicated work ethic universally associated with women will, we believe, work wonders for Jamaica's football.

For now though, we join the JFF and all well thinking Jamaicans in wishing the nation's two ambassadors all the best in today's final.

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