After Jamaica had shut down the team in 2008, Marley took the responsibility of bringing it back on the field.
Cedella Marley, the CEO of the Bob Marley Group Of Companies and daughter of musician and reggae pioneer Bob Marley, has proven to be a fairy Godmother. The Jamaican Women's National Soccer Team has struggled to obtain funding from its own country's soccer organization. Hence, the team sought assistance from the 55-year-old in 2014. After Jamaica had shut down the team in 2008, Marley took the responsibility of bringing it back on the field, according to PEOPLE. After failing to qualify for the World Cup and the Olympics, the country's soccer organization disbanded the team. The move piqued Marley's interest in 2014 and she began fundraising for the team in the hopes of helping the country grow into an international contender.
The Jamaican Soccer Federation came under fire for underfunding the team. Marley, the three-time Grammy winner, "helps raise awareness for the team, encourages development and provides for it financially," the organization says. Having recently responded to criticism by acknowledging, "Things have not been done perfectly, and we are working assiduously to resolve them."
According to Jamaica Soccer Federation, the team is also supported by FIFA, the Jamaican government, corporate sponsorships, and the team's personal fundraising efforts through The Reggae Girlz Foundation. However, Marley is the team's primary sponsor for this year's World Cup, confirms Associated Press. Jamaica made its first World Cup tournament in 2019 but failed to advance past the group stage. The team made a comeback with a hit, reaching the knockout round for the first time in the country's history, a dramatic turnaround for the women's squad, which made its first World Cup appearance.
"Her support has been really important to us and she's just the heart of this team," Jamaica midfielder Deneisha Blackwood expressed to Associated Press. "She's just like our fairy godmother. We just appreciate her for everything she has done so far. I think Cedella has been the most important part of our journey," Blackwood added. "I think the best thing about her is she actually sees us not just as football players but as human beings. And I think that is just something that we've always wanted."
Multiple Jamaican players, affectionately known as "The Reggae Girlz," spoke out ahead of this year's World Cup to express their dissatisfaction with the country's soccer federation's insufficient funding. The Reggae Girlz were unsure if they would be able to compete in this year's World Cup, which is being held in Australia and New Zealand. The team relied on two last-minute fundraisers.
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"The backbone of this team, all along, has been Cedella," Jamaica coach Lorne Donaldson told the Associated Press. "Without her, and I can honestly this, because when the program was under, there was no football for the women. She was the one who pushed the start button and said, 'We need to go.'" Marley obviously helped, but Midfielder Havana Solaun's mother, Sandra Phillips-Brower also started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for their trip.
"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," Solaun's mom, Sandra, told the AP. "They should be able to go there and do what they qualified to do, just play soccer."
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