Young girls can now believe - Walker-Brown
Chairperson of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Women's programme, Elaine Walker-Brown, says the Reggae Girlz's qualification for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup will give hope to many young girls from challenging backgrounds to fight for their goals.
Walker-Brown, who said she was too overcome with emotion to finish watching Jamaica's penalty shoot-out with Panama, which they won 4-2 after a 2-2 scoreline in regulation and extra time, described the occasion as 'a wonderful moment,' which the JFF had been working towards for a long time.
"We were always working for this moment," Walker-Brown said before breaking down into tears. "I mean, it is really, really a good feeling and I hope that more girls will see this as an opportunity to study and play. Their parents don't have it financially, but there's an opportunity for them to play sports, especially women's football. So this can only build Jamaica women's football and the Caribbean will continue to see us as the trendsetters.
"We had the first school girls league in the entire Caribbean and I will continue to give these girls hope that there's an avenue that they can succeed in life despite the lack of resources and financial constraints, coming from poor homes."
Walker-Brown also thanked the stakeholders, and the team's coaching staff, whom she said had a critical role in the team's progress.
"I want to big up INSPORTS because when I started, I had only their support, it was my workplace.
We have been struggling because of a lack of resources, and I want to give a big shout-out to ambassador Cedella Marley for her support and seeking the funds so we could have practice games and seek more exposure. I want to big up the former Prime Minister (Portia Simpson-Miller), she has supported me, former minister (with responsibility for sports) Natalie Neita-Headley, and Sports Minister (Olivia) Grange. She has supported me in different tenures. I've got a lot of support from some real strong women, and also Sherwin-Williams...," Walker-Brown said before once again weeping uncontrollably.
"Sherwin-Williams (former national women's league and knockout cup sponsors) believed in these girls and they invested so much in them. Without them we wouldn't have so many girls overseas in scholarships. A lot of Jamaicans didn't believe in women's football but despite everything, I want to thank them. We don't have the full force of support that we want for women's football as yet but they're gradually coming around."
With the team's qualification, Jamaica becomes the first ever Caribbean nation to qualify for a FIFA Women's World Cup. The tournament will be played in France from June 7 to July 7, 2019.