THE Jamaica American Football Association (JAAFA), the island's governing body responsible for presenting all forms of American football in Jamaica since 2009, says the development of the sport may be at a standstill.
This, as the organisation grapples to fill a $800,000 shortfall in time for Jamaica's female national flag football team to participate for the second time in the International Women's Flag Football Association (IWFFA) tournament in Keywest, Florida, January 24-31.
According to JAAFA's Director of Football Roger Salmon, "Since placing third at our first IWFFA appearance in January last year all eyes are on Jamaica for what appears to be a source for players with tremendous potential. When local players compete internationally it opens the opportunity for scouts to come to the island to draft players and offer scholarships — because the game is played at the high school and global levels."
In 2022 JAAFA received assistance from Courts Jamaica Limited and Caribbean Assurance Brokers; and in 2023, support from repeat sponsors Emkay Sports and Mushe Holdings have helped JAAFA with a portion of the $1.5-million budget.
However, more support is needed to help JAAFA cover airfare and other expenses for a delegation of 10 players and two directors to represent Jamaica at the upcoming IWFFA tournament.
Salmon underscored that the girls' appearance this time around will help Jamaica to secure a global ranking for flag football.
"It will put us on the map as a country that is participating in yet another sporting event. We have done ice hockey and numerous others ... you name it, Jamaica has done it. So, American football is another one of that magnitude that we are trying to develop on the island."
The prospects for sports tourism through flag football are also great as JAAFA has already been approached to host international tournaments on the island. However, the organisation has been forced to decline until it is afforded a proper pitch for training and hosting games.
JAAFA remains in preparation mode to enter male and female teams for the Olympics in 2028. Kevaun Hinds, JAAFA's director of communications, highlighted that, "Our male teams have been training for many years now. We have received invitations for them to participate in tournaments but financial constraints have denied them the opportunity. However, we continue to harness and develop their skills."
The Jamaica American Football Association is currently based in east Kingston and seeks to engage children, youth and adults in the foundational and professional aspects of American football in Jamaica. The association is also committed to nation building through the development of sports, mentorship, and creating local and international opportunities for young people.