In 2008, the Jamaican Football Federation, affected by a crisis caused by the lack of money and corruption, decided to close all programs aimed at promoting football among women. And the female team was left without a rally. The Jamaicans stopped competing. In a land where football is the national sport together with athletics, women's soccer did not have any support, unlike athletics. All the money was destined for the men's team, which only played the World Cup in 1998, in France. 21 years later, the women's selection debuts at a World Cup, also in France. And all, thanks to reggae.
In 2014, Cedella Marley, the most famous Jamaican daughter of all time, singer Bob Marley, discovered thanks to an article in the press that the Federation had closed the tap to the footballers on their land. And he decided to act. "I did not follow football as my father, who was a great lover. The father always played soccer, made parties with Pele and other stars. For him, football was joy and passion, "told CNN Cedella Marley a few months ago, that he started putting the money to keep the selection alive. After years without parties, he organized concerts through the foundation that bears the name of Bob Marley to collect the necessary money to pay trips, salaries and equipment. The selection could return, but the process was so complicated that Cedella got to put money out of her pocket. Later on, an NGO based in the United States was involved to help Jamaican youth, the Alacran Foundation, to join the cause.
But the role of Cedella Marley went further, as he personally met with coach Hue Menzies, born in England in a Jamaican family, to ask him to be the coach. "He talked about the role of football in bringing happiness to the people, but also to inspire young Jamaicans. It transmits happiness, positive energy. I could not deny myself, "explains Menzies, who began to put Bob Marley's music into practice. The road, however, was complicated, since the Federation continued without help and, after being able to unleashedly participate in the qualifying rounds for the 2015 World Cup, the team was three years without playing. But Cedella returned with more money and met with Jamaican Sports Minister Olivia Grange, who began to stretch his ears to the executives of the Federation.
In 2018, the Reggae Girlz, as they are known, began their journey to France, surpassing modest selections such as those of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Little by little, with players born on the island but also with daughters from the Jamaican diaspora in the United States and Europe, they settled in the semifinals of the final tournament, where they were beaten by Canada. And in a cold night in Dallas they overcame Panama to the penalties in the game that opened the doors of the World Cup. When they returned home, thousands of people were taken to the streets of Kingston. And Cedella Marley, who lives in the United States, accompanied the players, while the sound of her father's music sounded deep.