Cedella Marley kicks off new Women's Football Initiative with Jamaica vs Costa Rica friendlyWednesday, September 29, 2021
Cedella Marley, CEO of the Bob Marley Group of companies, currently in her seventh year as global ambassador for the Jamaica Women's Football Programme, is now expanding her advocacy and commitment to the women's game.
Her new Football is Freedom Initiative will provide tools and resources for the development and growth of women's football throughout the Caribbean and Latin America as well as diaspora communities in the United States.
“In the process of my role as ambassador, I have taken note of the crucial role that football can play in empowering young women; through opportunities for education and professional advancement — both on and off the pitch. Through the Football is Freedom Initiative we can expand our efforts to other countries in the region and eventually beyond,” said Marley.
The core mission of Football is Freedom Initiative is trifold:
1) Support the development of women's football at the grass-roots level in the region by funding existing programmes/academies in the islands and in diaspora communities in Canada and the United States.
2) Support the growth and development of national teams by staging an annual exhibition match/mini tournament to provide a quality training experience and raise funds that will go directly into the women's programmes of the participating federations.
3) Invest in the holistic wellness of the players by funding scholarships and programmes that assist players with skill sets and tools to help them succeed outside of football once that time comes.
The launch of Football Is Freedom centres on an international friendly fund-raising match between the national women's teams of Jamaica and Costa Rica. In addition to helping fund the new initiative, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to each national team.
Marley is particularly pleased that Costa Rica will join Jamaica on the pitch at DRV PNK Stadium.
“In 2014, I was honoured to attend the FIFA U-17 WWC finals in Costa Rica — as the guest of the late Captain Horace Burrell. The Costa Rican federation's investment in women's football has helped to inspire my own ideas about the impact that the women's game could have once given the proper support. Having two of our strongest female teams come together like this is a chance to demonstrate the potential depth and power of women's football in this region,” she added.
The Reggae Girlz and Las Sele will both arrive in South Florida on October 18 for a week of training and a two-game series. In adherence to FIFA-mandated COVID-19 protocols, the delegations will be housed in protective isolation during the camp. The first match will be a closed-door scrimmage, and the finale will be a fund-raising match open to the public on October 24.
The camp is the result of a combined efforts of the Bob Marley Foundation, the Rita Marley Foundation, and the Reggae Girlz Foundation. The match is being presented by Cedella Marley in association with Black Tower Agency.
In separate statements, the Costa Rican and Jamaican federations expressed the importance of the upcoming camp and the initiative itself to women's football in the region.
“For the Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) it is a true pleasure to be able to participate in the first edition of the Football is Freedom festival. From a sporting perspective, the fact that our female players can compete with a team of such high calibre as the Jamaican team is immensely important. And of course, getting the chance to participate in the beginnings of what this foundation is going to do makes us proud. The first edition of this festival, set to be held in Florida, will be of utmost importance for our players as they look ahead to the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. We will also use this opportunity to show how a foundation like this can impact young girls and get them excited about sports,” noted Gustavo Araya, FEDEFUTBOL general secretary.
“I would like to wholeheartedly commend and congratulate our Reggae Girlz Ambassador Cedella Marley and her team. Football is Freedom can only help to broaden the interest and quicken the expansion of women's football in Jamaica and the wider region. We are particularly proud that the initiative is being launched around a camp and an international friendly game involving the Reggae Girlz. This will serve as invaluable preparation for their World Cup qualifiers which begin in November. The Jamaica Football Federation stands ready to offer whatever assistance necessary to ensure the success of this venture and we look forward to participating vibrantly going forward. On behalf of every aspiring female footballer throughout Jamaica, I wish this progressive vision every success,” offered Michael Ricketts, president of the Jamaica Football Federation.
In addition to the main event, the day's festivities will include:
• Pre-game kick-off party/Fan Zone experience with games, entertainment, and food trucks
• Community marketplace showcasing small businesses and organisations from the South Florida diaspora communities
• A musical half-time performance
Other sponsors and partners include Visit Fort Lauderdale, KICS International, and Riddims Marketing.
Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster beginning October 6.