FOLLOWING an awareness conference in Fort Lauderdale last Friday night, aimed at laying the groundwork for establishing a sustainable platform to serve the interests of Jamaica's women's football programme, support has already started apace.
Already, the South Florida operations of Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) and Jamaica United Relief Association (JURA) have thrown their sponsorship behind the Reggae Girlz initiative.
At the Jamaica High School Alumni Sporting Network's (JHSASN) organised function at the Sheraton Suites Hotel on a wet and chilly South Florida night, other promises of commitment were also given for the cash-starved Jamaica women's football programme.
Among those committing their support for the Girlz programme were US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Congressman Alcee Hastings.
The Jamaica International Female Football Development Inc (JIFFD), which was established by JHSASN to run the business of securing the broad-based welfare of the Girlz, has called on other sponsors "to come on board".
President of JHSASN, Lavern Deer, begged prospective sponsors and benefactors of the mission to take heed of the words of Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Captain Horace Burrell, who urged that support for the Girlz should come sooner rather than later, a charge he made as he addressed Friday's conference.
"Captain Horace Burrell made reference to the opportunity that now exists for sponsors to buy-in early, supporting the Reggae Girlz Awareness initiatives, therefore maximising their return on investment," she said.
Deer added that based on the commitment so far and with those that are bound to come, plus October being declared "Jamaica Women's Football Awareness Month" by Broward County, show a vote of confidence in the proposed campaign.
"Based on the strength of Jamaican representation in South Florida, Broward County, having October proclaimed by the city mayors of these top US communities, shows tremendous doors are opening to Women Soccer, not just in the US, but to the world," she noted.
Albert Tucker, vice-president of Multicultural Business Development with The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors' Bureau (CVB), said the support of the Girlz goes beyond just football.
"The support of the Reggae Girlz Awareness Conference goes in line with the support of the Jamaica High School Alumni Sporting Network's efforts to get both countries to work together in building multi-cultural sports and tourism," he said.
"The focus of the CVB is to promote Broward County as the Caribbean gateway to the Americas. The development of this sporting initiative will create a tourism economic engine and enhance Caribbean business expansion," Tucker added.
According the US 2010 Census, the South Florida Region is home to the second-largest Jamaican population outside Jamaica, with Broward County in excess of 60,000 Jamaicans, statistics claim. The top 25 US communities with high percentages of people of Jamaican ancestry are Lauderdale Lakes (ranked number two) at 18.80 per cent, Lauderhill (three) at 17.60 per cent and Miramar (five) at 15 per cent.
Jamaica's Under-17 and Under-20 Girlz are expected to have Caribbean play-offs later this year for their respective world tournaments.
It is expected that part of the thrust of JIFFD is to organise training camps for the women in South Florida, and to also provide other tools necessary for their preparation for major competitions.
Due to a cash crunch, the JFF was forced to disband the senior Girlz programme back in 2010, but new General Secretary Raymond Grant had said there was hope for the team's revival and that the matter "is constantly under review".