Big Up! Jamaican women’s team make history in qualifying for 2019 World Cup
#BlackGirlMagic but this time in women's soccer: Jamaica's lady footballers will take a trip to France next year, but they're getting there with the help of a famous ambassador
Jamaica’s senior women’s national soccer team made history last week as the first Caribbean team to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Wednesday evening, the team known as the Reggae Girlz, defeated Panama’s women’s national team in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw in the Concacaf Women’s Championship third-place play-off.
But according to the BBC, this major achievement may not have been possible if it wasn’t for the invaluable support of Cedella Marley, daughter of Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley.
In 2010, the team disbanded due to financial challenges. Fortunately, Marley entered the scene four years later as an ambassador and through the Bob Marley Foundation, was also able to sponsor the women, enabling them to get back on their feet and turn things around.
“That support from the Bob Marley Foundation has been so important to us,” team coach Hue Menzies told FIFA.com. “Bob Marley loved football, of course. Cedella has continued that passion, and she really wants to help women’s football develop in Jamaica.”
“The Reggae Girlz have held their own against some of the best, mainly on raw talent and passion for the sport,” the 51-year-old previously told the BBC about why she chose to get involved. “We still have a lot to prove. A lot of people make history but the only way to keep our relevance is to keep winning. We don’t compete to qualify; we compete to win.”
After their historic victory, Marley took to Twitter to congratulate the ladies:
CONGRATULATIONS @JamaicaReggaeGirlz!!! The journey has just begun #STRIKEHARD! Thank you Panama, game well played #Respect!
AlacranGroup #BobMarleyFoundation#JFFLive #ReggaeGirlz #ReggaeFootball #StillOnTheBall pic.twitter.com/r7JowlsQtV
— Cedella Marley (@cedellamarley) October 18, 2018
Olympic gold medalist and fellow Jamaican, Usain Bolt, showed the ladies some love on his social media account as well:
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) October 18, 2018
This all may feel particularly fated given that the Reggae Girlz’s advancement happened on the 20th anniversary of Jamaica’s first World Cup appearance.
Their men’s team counterparts, the Reggae Boyz, first advanced to the World Cup in 1998. And just like the 1998 Men’s World Cup, the 2019 Women’s World Cup will take place in France.