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History-making Reggae Girlz get Parliamentary backing

Senior staff reporter

Friday, November 09, 2018

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THE Sports Development Foundation (SDF) has said it will allocate over $20 million towards the Jamaica senior women's football programme in the wake of the country's historic qualification to the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.

“We are in the process of putting together our budget and… they will be able to receive from us in excess of $20 million as support going forward,” said SDF General Manager Denzil Wilks during Wednesday's sitting of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) at Gordon House.

Wilks noted that the State-run SDF had already pledged $5 million to the Reggae Girlz days after their 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Panama after the teams ended 2-2 following regulation and extra time in the Concacaf Championship third-place play-off match in the United States last month.

The SDF general manager said talks with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) have been ongoing since the team qualified, though he said he was unable to provide more details of the total outlay.

“We immediately entered into discussions with the federation to get an indication as to what their needs are.

“The precise figure has not yet been finalised, but we are in discussion because we are looking at what they may be able to get from other sources,” Wilks said.

“We support football in a particular way, on a regular basis, but we recognise that when you have a World Cup coming up it [expense] is going to go up, so we increased the amount. We are positioning ourselves to make sure the Reggae Girlz are supported in the way that they need to be,” Wilks added in reference to his organisation's readiness to provide funding outside of the customary subvention to the JFF.

The JFF has said the budget to get the Reggae Girlz ready for France 2019 is approximately US$1.5 million (J$190 million).

The PAAC's role is to provide oversight for government expenditure.

Money is dispersed to the SDF by the Government-run Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund. Until recently, CHASE received a percentage of the proceeds from the gaming industry, but since April 2017 it operates on a subvention from the Consolidated Fund.

Earlier, PAAC Chairman Wykeham McNeill had broached the issue of financial support for the Reggae Girlz, noting that the SDF “is an important part of building the sport infrastructure” in Jamaica.

He added: “As a people there are certain things that give us pride… we're all proud of the fact that the Reggae Girlz have done well and qualified, so obviously they are going to need funding. Government has to be a part of that. Within your budget there must be some thought to how we are going to support them going forward.”

PAAC member and state minister in the Ministry of Sport Alando Terrelonge followed by stressing that private sector enterprises should also play their role in supporting the senior women's programme.

“It ought to be a partnership between private sector and the Government, because we all share in the glory of the Girlz's success, which benefits the glory of the nation.”

The women's team also stands to benefit from FIFA prize money.

The world football governing body only recently confirmed the doubling of the prize money on offer at the women's World Cup to an overall contribution of US$50 million for the 24 participating nations.

The added money includes US$11.5 million to help teams organise friendly matches before the World Cup, as well as US$8.5 million to reward clubs releasing players for the tournament.

The World Cup will be staged from June 7 to July 7.

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