Photo: The Canadian Press
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — To borrow from Bob Marley’s native son, Jamaica is jammin’.
Jamaica qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup as one of the top four in the CONCACAF Championship W. The Reggae Girlz next face Canada on Thursday night in the semifinals of the tournament.
Next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will mark Jamaica’s second appearance in soccer’s premier tournament. They were the first ever Caribbean team to take the field in 2019.
The Reggae Girlz made a dramatic appearance on the international scene. The team did not exist six years ago and had to constantly fight for finances.
“There are much higher levels we can reach with even more investment from home,” forward Kayla McCoy said. “So we’re excited to see what comes out of our qualifier because not many people thought we could do it again.” I think it cemented us in that position a little bit and now people know we’re real and we’re going to start investing a little more.”
The team was disbanded in 2008 after failing to qualify for the 2007 World Cup and 2008 Olympics.
In 2014, Bob and Rita Marley’s eldest daughter, Cedella, made it her mission to resurrect the team. While Jamaica did not qualify for the 2015 World Cup in Canada, the team attracted fans due to its association with the Marley family.
Cedella Marley has been a tireless ambassador for the team, recruiting much needed sponsors. A GoFundMe was once set up to help Jamaica train and the players organized other fundraisers. But despite the success, Reggae Girlz is trying to get funding from the Jamaican Federation.
Jamaica has also overcome considerable turbulence at the forefront in recent years. Coach Lorne Donaldson took over at the beginning of June – spending only a month with the team.
After Hue Menzies resigned due to a salary dispute with the federation after the 2019 World Cup, he was replaced in 2020 by Hubert Busby Jr., who was accused of sexual abuse while coaching the women’s club team in Canada. He denied the allegations.
Busby was sacked late last year and Jamaica appointed Vin Blaine, who was forced to step down after 20 national team players sent a letter to the federation saying they could not support him.
“I think what’s important to us as a group is that we’ve stuck together through everything and overcome those challenges,” McColy said. the group that we have and the family that we have is what’s kept us going through all of this and what’s helping us overcome these obstacles.”
There was also a personal tragedy during the CONCACAF qualifiers. Up-and-coming youth international Jedine Carr was killed in a shooting on Friday while on her way to practice with the club team in Jamaica.
A moment of silence was observed for Carr before the final group stage matches at the tournament. Khadija Shaw held up Carr’s jersey as the team celebrated their World Cup qualification win over Haiti.
Shaw, better known as Bunny, plays professionally for Manchester City and is Jamaica’s biggest star. He is only 25 years old and already has 38 goals in 56 games with the Reggae Girlz.
Shaw scored two goals in a 4-0 win over Haiti. for celebration, Cedella Marley tweeted: “FIFA Women’s World Cup here we come… I’m so proud, the whole country is so proud.”
And there’s another Marley who took up the cause recently. Skip Marley, Cedella’s son, allowed his song “Lions” to be used as a track The official anthem of the W Championship.
In addition to Jamaica’s game against Canada on Thursday, the United States plays Costa Rica in the other semifinal.
While these four teams have already locked up places at the World Cup, there is another prize on the line for the winner of the tournament: a place at the 2024 Olympics in France.
Donaldson pointed out that the Jamaican team has come a long way judged her company in the semi-finals. Canada won gold at the Tokyo Games and the United States is the two-time defending world champion.
“Canada is an Olympic champion. So you have an Olympic champion and a world champion still in the tournament and we’re with them. I mean it’s good that we’re still playing for something in this part of the tournament.”
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