'WE NEED THE SUPPORT'
Walker-Brown supports call for corporate Jamaica to provide financial help to Reggae GirlzMonday, October 04, 2021
BY SANJAY MYERS
Elaine Walker-Brown, chairperson for the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) women's committee, has joined the latest appeal for local businesses to provide financial support toward the Reggae Girlz bid to qualify for the 2023 Fifa World Cup Finals.
Jamaica's senior women's team, which reached the 2019 World Cup Finals in France, is to begin its 2023 qualifying campaign with a home game against Bermuda and a trip to Grenada — both in late November — in Group C of the preliminary stage of Concacaf qualifying.
But though there is a planned training camp and friendly international against Costa Rica in Florida this month, the Hubert Busby-coached side has spent limited time on the football pitch together.
After more than a year of inactivity, Jamaica's women, ranked number 51 in the world and fifth in Concacaf, had a taste of competitive action at the US Soccer Women's National Team Summer Series in Texas in June this year.
The Reggae Girlz beat 38th-ranked Nigeria 1-0, before going down 0-4 to world champions and number one ranked United States. The Jamaicans have been idle since.
“We just need the support; we need the support of corporate Jamaica to help us,” Walker-Brown told the Jamaica Observer.
“From we went to the US for the series in June nothing else has happened, and we don't want to go back to those days when we were not properly prepared. We really need continued support for the Reggae Girlz,” she said.
Up to a decade ago Jamaica's women's football had been in dire straits.
Due to lack of funding coming from the JFF, the senior Reggae Girlz programme was dormant between 2008 and 2014. But when Cedella Marley, the daughter of late Reggae legend Bob Marley, was appointed Jamaica's women's global football ambassador it created an almost immediate turnaround.
Through the Bob Marley Foundation, with Cedella at the helm, the Girlz were able to attract sponsorship to help with preparation of age-group and senior teams, including local and overseas-based training camps.
The support culminated in the senior women's historic qualification for the France 2019 showpiece.
Only last week, JFF President Michael Ricketts and General Secretary Dalton Wint heaped praise on the Bob Marley Foundation for its role in propping up the women's programme.
Even then, Wint had noted: “… we still need a lot more funds in the women's programme to be successful.”
Walker-Brown, Jamaica's top female football administrator and president of the St Catherine Football Association, concurred.
“Despite what the Bob Marley Foundation is doing, and the Reggae Girlz Foundation that's based in Miami, we need Jamaican business companies behind us; we need the support,” she reiterated.
After the two games in November, the Jamaicans are scheduled to round off their Group C campaign next April, away to Cayman Islands and at home versus Dominican Republic.
If they top the group, the Reggae Girlz and five other group winners will advance to the final Concacaf qualifying tournament alongside United States and Canada, the two highest-ranked regional teams, received byes.
The top four teams from the Concacaf final round will qualify for the Fifa Women's World Cup Finals which is to be jointly staged in Australia and New Zealand between July and August 2023. The two next best finishers will be entered into inter-confederation play-offs.