Michael Ricketts, President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) said it was welcome news that the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), is to fund the world-cup bound women’s team to the tune of in excess of US$150,000 (approx.J$20 million).
In October, the Reggae Girls qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France when they defeated Panama on penalty kicks to finish third in the CONCACAF Women’s Championships held in the United States.
The first Caribbean team to qualify for the world cup will join the United States and Canada as automatic qualifiers from CONCACAF. Panama will play off against Argentina with the winner also qualifying for the world cup.
However, the cash-strapped JFF faced a daunting task of raising funds to prepare the team for the competition with the president making an appeal for support during a recent function at the British High Commission in Kingston.
The High Commission had hosted a send-off event for the team and members of the JFF prior to their departure to the United Kingdom where they played Nottingham Forest Ladies on October 28.
On Wednesday, the SDF made the welcome announcement.
“We entered immediately into discussions with the federation, and we are in the process of putting together our budget and we are looking at them being able to receive from us, in excess of J$20 million as support,” said SDF General Manager Denzil Wilks, whose foundation donated US$40,000 to the team on its return to Jamaica.
“The precise figure has not yet been finalised but we are in discussions because are looking at what they will be able to get from other sources.
“We support football in a particular way on a regular basis but we recognise that when you have a world cup – whether it is male or female – it is going to go up and so we increase that amount that is available. So we are positioning ourselves to make sure the Reggae Girlz are supported to the extent that they need to be.”
Ricketts was heartened by the news.
“We have been having discussions with various government entities and SDF had given us an indication that they will be supporting us going forward. We are ecstatic. We are delighted and this kind of injection will certainly go a far way in having our girls properly prepared as we go to France not just to participate, but to be very competitive.”
Ricketts also revealed that the federation is currently having discussions with other potential sponsors, some of which have been positive. He indicated that there are also other initiatives underway to help raise much-needed funding for the team.
“We have not yet got any other firm commitment but the Reggae Girlz Foundation that was formed some months ago in Florida, we had a meeting with them today and they have been putting a number of things in place that they, too, will be in a position to offer some assistance,” he said.
“A number of positive things would have come out of that meeting including a number of fundraising events aimed at assisting us going forward.”