JFF general secretary urges fans to put 'money where your mouth is'
Jamaica's Jody Brown (right) takes a shot as Canada's Jade Rose (left) tries to block during the first-leg Olympic Games qualifier at the National Stadium on Friday, September 22, 2023. Looking on is Canada's Kadeisha Buchanan. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

HOME crowd support boosts a team’s confidence, empowering players to both make bolder decisions and play their best game.

Against that backdrop, Dennis Chung, general secretary of Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), is urging local fans to give more support to the country’s sporting teams.

With Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz and Reggae Girlz having competed in international matches recently at National Stadium, Chung believes there could have been greater attendance to will on both teams.

The Boyz hosted Honduras and Haiti in the Nation’s League on September 8 and September 12, respectively, while the Girlz faced Canada in the first of two Olympic Games qualifiers on September 22.

Jamaica's Reggae Girl Chenya Matthews (right) tries to get away from Canada's Ashley Lawrence during the first-leg Olympic Games qualifier at the National Stadium on Friday, September 22, 2023. Jamaica lost 0-2. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

“The home support for the Reggae Girlz was actually better than the Boyz. The challenge is that I personally don’t think that Jamaicans support sporting events enough,” Chung told the Jamaica Observer.

“I don’t think it is just football. I mean, if you look at the last National Trials for example, the support was not really there. You go to other countries like Canada and USA and so you could feel the support; you see a lot of people and the stadiums are sold out.

“I found and commented on it even during the Boyz and Girlz matches. A lot of people called, and even when you see a lot of them in the stadium, a lot of them asked for free tickets. I have to say to some people: ‘Look guys, just go out and buy some tickets. Support the Girlz, support the Boyz,’ ” the general secretary stated.

Chung stated that fans do not have to physically be present at match venues to demonstrate their support. He said true support can come through buying tickets to contribute to the cause.

CHUNG...the challenge is that I personally don't think that Jamaicans support sporting events enough.

“So if you go out and buy a Grandstand ticket for $5,000, or if you buy a Bleachers ticket for $1,500, I think that is the least we can do to show support and basically put your money where your mouth is.

“We’re always saying that they need support, and all those things you talk about cost money. We have to pay for the stadium, as we don’t get the stadium free. The support, for me, is not just from the point of view [about] the numbers of people in the stadium, but show real support by going out and buying a ticket.

“I have been to football matches overseas and other sporting events and you just can’t get a ticket as people are buying it — and that’s how we need to show our support. That is the one time that we can show the support to the football teams or the sporting teams — and many of us don’t like to do it,” Chung argued.

On September 22 the Reggae Girlz were defeated 0-2 at home by Canada, and 1-2 in front of a sold-out crowd at BMO Field in Torornto, Canada on September 26. While the results were not what the Jamaicans had hoped for, according to Chung the Reggae Girlz gave it their all and demonstrated their real fighting spirit against a top squad.

“I think the Girlz went out there and did their best. Unfortunately we lost both matches but the truth is, Canada is a highly ranked team. I wouldn’t take away anything from them but the fact that they scored a goal while they were in Canada, it showed that they were fighting, they had the heart to do it, so I wouldn’t take away from the Girlz.

“I just want to commend them on a good effort.  It is just unfortunate that we didn’t make it [to the Olympics], but that’s how the dice rolls. What we must always remember: Is not one side that want to win; everybody’s going out there to win. And Canada, as I said, is a highly ranked team,” Chung said.Reggae Girlz will now focus on the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifications. They are to open their campaign away to Panama on October 25.

“The Girlz are currently playing in clubs and so they are not inactive. I don’t know what the technical staff will do but I mean, they [Girlz] will have to be released, so more than likey what will happen is that a team will be picked by the technical staff, and they will come here a few days before.

“The Girlz would have been playing together for a while and so they will come and go to the venues or the places that they will be playing, and a few days before (as usual), and play the games,” Chung said.

The Jamaicans will head into those matches with a fresh coach at the helm.

Lorne Donaldson’s contract as head coach of the Reggae Girlz expired today and, according to a release from JFF, it will not be renewed.  

BY RUDDY ALLEN Staff reporter

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