Jamaica women’s football team, the Reggae Girlz, recently released a lengthy statement on Instagram, detailing their frustration and disappointment with the Jamaica Football Federation and its lack of support for the women’s team. The post detailed the inadequate training conditions, transport, and nutrition, as well as a lack of accessibility to crucial resources.
The team go on to express how they’ve been forced to miss out on a number of important official FIFA friendly matches, subsequently impacting their training schedules and potentially damaging their chances of success at the upcoming World Cup.
Despite the Federation having promised to resolve any and all issues or complaints, no legitimate changes have been made to adequately address the problems. And, with the World Cup fast approaching—set to kick off on 20 July 2023—the Jamaican women’s team has had to take things into their own hands.
Sandra Phillips-Brower, the mother of midfielder Havana Solaun, has set up a GoFundMe titled ‘Reggae Girlz Rise Up’ with the goal of raising money to cover any costs the team might need on their journey and during the tournament.
In the fundraiser description, Phillips-Brower explained: “I am the proud mother of Havana Solaun who plays for the Jamaican Reggae Girlz National Team. The 2019 Women’s World Cup in France represented a ground-breaking entry for the small Caribbean island onto an international platform. Their maiden voyage into the competitive arena proved the Jamaican girls are a talented athletic force that had risen to the highest level of soccer.”
The mother continued: “The journey to Australia in July of 2023 is a costly endeavour and it is my intention to to allow both staff and players to focus on the competition by helping raise funds to cover some of the expenses incurred on this incredible adventure Down Under.”
So far, the GoFundMe has raised over $48,000, with the final target being $100,000. As evident within the team’s statement, there are clear systemic issues within the Jamaican Football Federation—problems that unfortunately aren’t being adequately addressed.
Only last year, the Reggae Girlz were left stranded in Houston, Texas, only days after the team made Caribbean football history with back-to-back qualifications for the World Cup. The team were left to fend for themselves after being informed that there was not enough money available to clear their luggage, subsequently resulting in them missing their connecting flight. Moreover, only a few weeks prior, the men’s Jamaican football team were left abandoned in South America following a Concacaf Nations League match.
Female football players have historically faced funding issues and sponsorship problems, primarily due to the sexist notion that women’s football is inherently less ‘exciting’ or ‘athletic.’ While it’s evident that the Jamaican Football Federation has internal problems that span across all gendered teams, ensuring that its women’s team receives the proper support it needs is the only way we can effectively increase representation for female football players and subsequently create equality across the sport.