If you’re a Jamaican living in South Florida and you weren’t at last week Thursday’s fun-day event at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, you truly missed something spectacular… something that would probably give you goosebumps or, less dramatically, simply fill your heart with the familiar feeling of Jamaican pride.
First, Jamaican celebrities like Papa San, Chris Martin and Agent Sasco played against a line-up of celebrities, before the Reggae Girlz themselves took the field to battle FC Surge USA.
While the Girlz won their match, the enormous crowd support from the full stadium was a surprise to both organizers and attendees alike. Jamaicans in South Florida came out in droves to cheer on the team. Full proceeds from the event, and several others held throughout the week, will go towards the Reggae Girlz’s preparation for the June 7-July 7 Women’s World Cup in France, as the team’s journey has so far been under-funded.
The five-day send-off celebration was coordinated by the Reggae Girlz Foundation, Consul General Oliver Mair, and the City of Miramar’s Vice Mayor Alexandra Davis.
South Florida Celebration a Success
CNW spoke to the Reggae Girlz Foundation’s President, Michelle Adamolekun, who told us, “It was definitely a success. The team was extremely excited at the turn out.”
She explained that the proceeds from the fundraising activities will cover costs for the five camps the team have had to date.
Playing in Europe
After their South Florida stop, the team went on to Europe. Reports broke that, due to budgetary constraints, the team had to take a circuitous route – stopping in Africa instead of heading straight there.
“Regarding the travel situation,” Adamolekun told CNW, “I’m not really privy to all the details, however, I can tell you that the Reggae Girlz and the coaching staff are extremely resilient, and extremely upbeat about the next few days as they prepare for the World Cup. They are in England for a Jamaica National and The Voice celebration that will be on May 30, and they’re extremely excited about that. Then they will be heading off to France to their World Cup camp.”
Before that stop, however, this Tuesday, May 28th, the Reggae Girlz were defeated by host nation Scotland, 3-2, in a warm-up match.
“It was a great game, even though they lost. When Brazil played Scotland, the crowd size was about 4000 plus. When the Reggae Girlz played Scotland, it was about 18,555 people. That really speaks to the Jamaica brand and the Reggae Girlz brand – to be able to truly break and make history having 18,000 plus people come to see them play in Scotland. While it wasn’t the result they were looking for, I think they showed extremely well on that stage,” Adamolekun said.
“We’re excited about their next game against Brazil. We’re asking everyone to ensure that if they’re not making it France, definitely watch them, support them from home, find a watch party and go out and celebrate.”
The Foundation’s Role
The Reggae Girlz Foundation has played an integral role in the team’s success, as it has invested time and hard work in gathering financial resources and support for the team as they make their way to France.
Adamolekun explained, “The foundation’s support is really about creating a sustainable model for the Reggae Girlz and women’s football in Jamaica. We’ve received a lot of one-time donations and support, but what we’re hoping to achieve is to get to the level where individuals are making recurring annual donations to support women’s football in Jamaica, and to ensure that it is sustainable.”
The foundation’s four-pronged strategy, includes achieving awareness around the gaps in opportunities that currently exists in women’s football; building an academy in Jamaica for young girls; creating a sustainable women’s premier league; and supporting all the women’s national teams as they prepare for major tournaments.
Adamolekun says that the foundation is still awaiting the final numbers on the funds raised during the South Florida celebrations, but, based on the great turnout at the events held, she’s certain it will be a substantial amount.
She also notes that beyond the World Cup, support will be needed for the upcoming PanAm Games, and to ensure the girls are prepared for the Olympic qualifiers. “The under-20 girls national team will also be competing for a spot at the U20 World Cup, and that begins in July, and we also have the under-17s that will need to prepare,” she says.
Adamolekun asks those who want to support the team at the World Cup, and who want to join in on efforts to create a sustainable funnel for women’s football in Jamaica, to donate via the Reggae Girlz Foundation’s website at www.reggaegirlzfoundation.com.