Jamaica’s women’s national soccer team, the Reggae Girlz, made their historic debut at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France on Sunday.
Although they lost 3-0 to Brazil in their debut, their mere presence at the tournament makes them the first Caribbean nation to qualify for the tournament.
The journey to the tournament hasn’t been easy due to lack of funding from the Jamaica Football Federation, which chose instead to focus on the men’s team. This left the Reggae Girlz disbanded for years, until 2014, when Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella Marley helped create financial support for the team by becoming an ambassador.
“I didn’t even know we had a women’s team in Jamaica,” Marley told the Telegraph. “And I love football. I mean, before I knew there was a Reggae Girlz team I supported the Reggae Boyz. And I still do with all of my heart. But I just didn’t know.
She has had to pour much of her own money into the team, but the effort to get the girls to the World Cup has been a group effort. Even the Reggae Girlz head coach, Hue Menzies, initially took the role as a volunteer.
And although the team doesn’t have the same resources or opportunities as the bigger teams in the tournament, Marley says you can’t beat their heart!
“It’s a miracle that we’re here at all,” she says. “And if we start to win, the party back home… mind you, you drop a rice grain in Jamaica and tell us it’s a party and we’re going to party! But I believe we’re capable of anything.”