The U.S. Women’s soccer team may be having a storied run in the Women’s World Cup, but Jamaica’s team just had a sweet victory.
The team just beat Brazil to make it to the round of 16 for the first time in the country’s history, but the story of how they got to the Women’s World Cup is even more heartwarming. It was also a tough loss for Brazil since it was their first time getting booted from the group stage since 1995.
Funds are an oft-forgotten important aspect of keeping a team running. The Jamaican women’s team was called off because the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) could not cough up the cash to keep it running.
However, the men’s team was still operating until 2014 when Skip Marley showed his mother Cedella a pamphlet asking people to donate money to get the women’s team started up again.
According to ESPN, it was then that Cedella knew it was time to figure out a way to get the team back in competition, so she enlisted her brothers Damien and Steve to bring awareness to the cause and release a song entitled “Strike Hard.”
Then, she got to raising money by starting a GoFundMe page, with the Bob Marley Foundation as a sponsor. The plan worked, but it was disbanded once again.
Still, Cedella didn’t give up and helped clean house of the JFF and hired Hue Menzies as the head coach. Under Menzies’ tutelage, the team qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, making it the first time a Caribbean nation had done so.
“Since March 2014, my title has been Global Ambassador of the Jamaica Women’s Football program,” Cedella tells ESPN. “When I was asked by Capt. Horace Burrell it was supposed to be about raising money and support for the program. I had no idea how much it would evolve. My involvement is determined by what is happening at that moment. We’ve raised money, travelled with the team to tournaments, planned camps, etc. At this point it’s so much more than any one title could encompass.”
The team went on to lose all three group matches in 2019, and the money problems still followed them. So for the squad to make it to the World Cup, midfielder Havana Solaun’s mother, Sandra Phillips-Brower, started another GoFundMe campaign named ”Reggae Girlz Rise Up,” in April 2023 that raised nearly $50,000.
“If I can somehow make this journey smoother for them — and let them focus on what they’d love to do is play soccer — they shouldn’t be worried about the politics or getting a flight or getting accommodation,” Phillips-Brower said. “They should be able to go there and do what we they qualified to do, just play soccer.”
Now that the ladies have the money to focus on the game –and with making it to the round of 16–they’ll wait to see who they’ll be competing against next.
See how Twitter’s reacting to the team’s overwhelming success below.
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