'Fruits of our labour' - Ricketts says work to resume women's football enabled World Cup qualification
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts says that the national senior women's football team's historic qualification for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup is a result of hard work to rebuild the women's programme paying off.
The Reggae Girlz defeated Panama 4-2 on penalties after Khadija Shaw and Jody Brown's goals were cancelled out, ending the game 2-2 after regulation and extra time.
Ricketts said that the result left him "ecstatic, overwhelmed and emotional."
"This is something that we have been working for," he told The Gleaner. "This JFF really wanted to give far more support to the women's programme and when we got into office, we restarted our parishes' Under 15 girls competitions. It is noteworthy that Clarendon (Football Association) and KSAFA (Kingston and St Andrew Football Association) played that final."
After a two-year hiatus, the national women's league returned this year and Ricketts, who previously said its resumption is one of his biggest achievements in his 13 months in office, praised all involved in that achievement.
"We sought and got sponsors for the women's national league which is in progress now," he said. "It's the fruits of our labour, and the thought process was in line for revitalising our women's programme, and the rest is history. We have much to give God thanks for, and for the wisdom and direction that he gave us so that we could've qualified for a global tournament, which is no ordinary feat.
"I must use this opportunity to congratulate all the stakeholders involved, all the coaches who have done an excellent job: Hue Menzies, Lorne Donaldson and, of course, Andrew Price. The Marley Foundation and The Alacran Foundation, who have given us tremendous financial support.
"I'm grateful to my board of directors, Elaine Walker-Brown and Jean Nelson (team manager) who have given so much support to women's football. I have to congratulate them too. I want to thank every single person that supported this exercise and this programme. I want to also thank the media persons who have supported me, even those who have been my greatest detractors, I want to say thanks to you as well.
"We must say thanks to Minister Olivia Grange, who gave us a lot of support. I have a meeting with her (today) and I must express my delight at having qualified."
Ricketts said the meeting will be a discussion of the women's programme, as well as football in general.