Boyz' feat keeps Women's programme afloat
WHILE the country celebrates the Reggae Boyz' progression to the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers following Tuesday night's 4-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda, those inside the national set-up are also celebrating, albeit for a different reason.
And none moreso than those involved in the Women's programme. They know that their future hinges on the success of the senior men's team. The Women's programme has already suffered from the financial constraints faced by the local governing body, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
In 2002, the JFF suspended the entire national programme after a 65 per cent cut in the government subvention and in late 2010 the senior Women's programme was cut.
Only the Under-20 and Under-17 programmes survived and national Women's coach Vin Blaine said the average citizen does not understand the impact the senior men has on local football.
"People don't understand that if we don't qualify it would've had far-reaching effects on the entire football programme in Jamaica," he told the Jamaica Observer.
Chairman of the JFF's Women's Committee, Elaine Walker-Brown, agrees.
"It means a lot because the Reggae Boyz are like the father for all the other football. Sponsors don't gravitate to the Women's programme or to the youth programme. They mostly focus on the Reggae Boys.
"Once the Reggae Boyz are alive and well, football in general is alive and well. The resources that come in through... filter down to the other programmes," she added.
"If the Reggae Boyz don't qualify, it's like the well will be dried up, so all the other programmes would have suffered and struggled to make their obligations," she explained.
In an interview the Sunday Observer following Tuesday's game, former general secretary, Horace Reid said the Boyz' qualification to the next round has averted disaster and helped resuscitate the national programme.
"The fall-out would have been on several fronts as we are in a fickle environment for public support as the sport is still result-driven," said Reid.
Even for the senior players themselves, Blaine said there would have been repercussions.
"They would lose their contracts because you have to have certain caps to play in Europe; people have to understand that. It does not only affect the Women's programme and the men's programme — it would affect the overall programme in Jamaica," he added.
In June, the JFF launched a National Under-15 Girls competition which, Walker-Brown points out, was borne out of a FIFA Symposium on Women's football held here last year.
"So Women's football getting some highlights for these last few months is because of FIFA," she said.
Questioned on the value of seeking sponsorship for the other national programmes independent of the Reggae Boyz Walker-Brown said: "We have been. Even Sherwin Williams, which has been there with us for over 10 years, even they have pleaded to corporate Jamaica. If people do assist they assist us with energy drink or something, but not proper funding, and the same applies to the Youth programme."
Blaine said while the Women's age-group teams will not begin competition until next year, they can now examine ways of restarting the senior Women's programme.
"Now it has given us some hope and we can now look forward to making plans to get the programme back on stream again sometime soon," he said. He has now planned a meeting with the members of the Women's programme to start making decisions.
"The entire programme has to be looked at as to the way forward," Blaine declared.