Key figures - Kingston honours Girlz as Spanish Town, Ocho Rios prepare to follow suit
The key to the city of Kingston was bestowed upon Jamaica's senior women's football team at a ceremony at Flag Circle in downtown Kingston yesterday. Sport Minister Olivia Grange said that mayors of other municipalities, upon learning of the presentations to the Reggae Girlz by Kingston and Montego Bay, wanted to make similar offerings to them, and have made requests to hand over keys to their municipalities as well.
"In the first place, the celebration has gone beyond the original plan, because we are suppose to have just two keys to the city, but other mayors got jealous. I got a call from Mayor (Norman) Scott (Spanish Town). He said he can't believe I gave all the mayors a chance to give the girls keys to their cities and they were not included.
"He said I can't pass him leaving from the west and going to Kingston. So I rearranged the schedule and at 9 a.m. (today), the Girlz will be at the council to receive the key to Spanish Town," she stated.
"Shortly after I hung up the phone, it rang again, and (Mayor) Michael Belnavis said I can't bring the girls to St Ann and not give him the opportunity to present the key. So (today) at dinner, when Sandals hosts the Girlz, they will be presented with the key," she continued.
"But it is the first any sporting personalities or any sport team has received so many keys to towns and cities in Jamaica," she declared.
Pleased with requests
Jamaica Football Federation President Michael Ricketts was also pleased by the requests to host the Girlz and he described their accomplishment as "no ordinary achievement ".
"I am just very delighted to be a part of this exercise," he said. "There are 211 member nations in FIFA and 24 at the World Cup, Jamaica is one of them. CONCACAF has 45 member associations. Three have qualified, [including] the United States that have spent US$250 million on their football programme, and Canada. The Caribbean has 35 member countries and we are the only one to have qualified, so this is no ordinary achievement."
Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams, whose municipality conferred the key yesterday, praised them for making such rapid progress in a sport that just started in recent history.
"Back in my time, women didn't participate in football much, and it wasn't seen as a main sport. Then we saw the introduction and rise of female football to the highest level in world football. So we must commend them for the commitment and discipline and their contribution to the sport, the city of Kingston and the country," he said.