Strength and Grit - Sports minister describes Reggae Girlz's success as reflection of J'can women
Sport Minister Olivia Grange said that the achievement of Jamaica's senior women's football team in qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup in France next year, embodies the qualities of the Jamaican woman.
Grange addressed the local delegation of the Jamaican team, which arrived in the island yesterday, along with members of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), as other stakeholders in local football, gathered at the event.
The local contingent of Jamaica's squad comprising national assistant coach Andrew Price, players Shanise Foster and Sashana Campbell, team manager Jean Nelson, team doctor Lori-Ann Miller, physiotherapist Saundria Codling, and physical trainer Jason Henry, arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport.
"The kind of spirit I saw from the girls, and the coaching staff, I just knew that we had it and the hard work," Grange said. "Today I'm a proud minister and a proud Jamaican woman. I just want to say to everybody: don't underestimate the strength and the grit, and the power of the Jamaican woman. I don't want us to be treated, as women, as second class. We want the funding, just like the men, we want the support."
Campbell, a 27-year-old midfielder, said that it means a lot to her to know that she will now be seen as a role model for Jamaican women both young and old.
"For me, being here for so long, from the Under-17s, the Under-20s and now at the senior level, I am a part of history," she said. "I hope it doesn't stop here and I hope we'll inspire a lot more females to play the sport and it will get bigger in Jamaica.
When the senior men's football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup on November 16, 1997, then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson had declared the following day a public holiday in their honour. Now that their female counterparts have achieved similar success, there have been calls from the public for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to do the same. Grange said that she is unsure that that request will be granted, however, if not, she will be planning her own celebration.
"(Wednesday) was a glorious day. It was a day that will go down in history. Words cannot truly describe how I feel. I always try to remain very calm and focused and poised, but I tell you something, mi glad bag buss," Grange said with a laugh. " I must confess to you that although we don't have all the players here today, we are planning to get them all here on a special occasion.
"I'm going to use the opportunity to work towards having a day proclaimed the Reggae Girlz Day. If the Reggae Girlz don't get a holiday, we'll proclaim it the day of the Reggae Girlz and we'll ask the entire nation to wear the colours and to celebrate the Girlz."
Grange said that she will have another future meeting with Jamaica Football Federation president Michael Ricketts and other stakeholders to work out plans to further honour the Reggae Girlz.