Big World Cup budget for Girlz
Jamaica's Reggae Girlz celebrate their goal against hosts Mexico during the opening Concacaf Women's Championship Group A encounter at Estadio Universitario in Monterrey on Monday, July 4, 2022.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) may need to find in excess of $500 million to prepare the Reggae Girlz for the Fifa Women's World Cup next year. However, while she was unable to confirm a figure, JFF official Janice Rose-Brown says the administration is committed to fulfilling its obligations to the programme and is working to see things through.

Rose-Brown, who is currently the JFF's director of operations, special projects and communications, explained that ensuring the team and its coaching staff are comfortable heading into next year's global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand is a highly expensive venture that will require significant support, even with Fifa's allocation of funds.

Indications are that the US$960,000 (approximately $140 million) to come from Fifa is only a fraction of the budget facing the cash-strapped local governing body.

The Jamaica Observer understands that the final figure could be somewhere in excess of $500 million, which represents a significant increase when compared to the $130-million plus that was spent for the Girlz's historic appearance in France in 2019.

But Rose-Brown, who was reluctant to confirm figures, revealed only that the administration, which is in critical need of funds, is still in the process of finalising the current budget.

"We are still finalising the budget because there are still some unknown factors, some of which we will never know to the end because you don't know which game you're gonna get in March next year and what it will cost for travel. So some things we will guesstimate because the coaches to their benefit told us what teams they want to play in each of these windows as they beef up the quality of the competition going forward," Rose-Brown told the Observer.

"So we can make some guesstimations and we are finalising the budget now, but I have absolutely no doubt that what we are to receive from Fifa is probably 25 per cent of what is going to be needed. And I can say that from raw, raw experience about what it even takes to host just one game in Jamaica, much less a potential four or six," she added.

Apart from delivering the Lorne Donaldson-led technical staff's wish list, as far as games are concerned, Rose-Brown said the biggest component of the budget is centred around meeting the contractual obligations of both players and coaches.

"So the goal is to try our very best to give the coaching staff what they have requested. I am not saying we will deliver everything or that we will deliver everything on time because what we have found is that after the qualification there was a lot of interest, typical response because of the quality of the achievements," Rose-Brown shared.

She continued: "But that is yet to be backed up with commitments and, therefore, you know we have to be cautious because, if we do or we don't do it to the level that we should, then we are attacked. And if we try to do more than we have the financial resources to, we are attacked. So it is trying to do the best possible, but the best possible can only come from more support.

"Because I would say that it [this budget] would definitely be much more costly [than France 2019], much more, not only because of a thing called inflation, but I think the strategy from the technical staff this time is much clearer and very visionary," she added.

This was backed up by JFF's former Director of Marketing Sophia Harris-Lau, who marshaled proceedings for the 2019 World Cup.

"It [budget] was around US$866,000 and that included participation at the World Cup. But it will be more costly because of a higher exchange rate and most likely more camps, higher transportation costs, among other things. Flights, food, and hotels are probably their biggest increase now," Harris-Lau shared.

Rose-Brown agreed that the JFF has indeed struggled to meet its demands at times, particularly from a marketing perspective, but declared that a number of internal changes geared towards better efficiency will be forthcoming.

"It has been, of course, challenging and as a result of those challenges, I don't think we ever gave totally what was required, and the fact that we weren't able to do that, and they [Girlz] still achieved what they did is further testimony to their strength," said Rose-Brown, while also paying homage to the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation, Reggae Girlz Foundation, and the Government.

Rose-Brown pointed out that the World Cup draw scheduled for late next month will be critical to how the federation proceeds as the possibility exists that it will open pockets of opportunities from more friendly contests which boast earning potential.

"We look with great interest that the draw, which comes up in two or three weeks, that will also be a good basis for us to judge, in terms of technically what is going to be possible, and, of course, it will open up many, many, many opportunities, in terms of countries that we may want to play, so the draw is also very important.

"But, generally, we want a successful campaign where the expectations of the technical staff and the players are met. We are treating our players with the respect that they deserve, and in the end we want them to have fun," Rose-Brown ended.

Sherdon Cowan

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