Fri | Nov 26, 2021

Nelson: Women’s WC qualification a big plus for local game

Published:Friday | March 8, 2019 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
The Reggae Girlz keep their focus during a training session at the National Stadium in January.

Senior Reggae Girlz football team manager Jean Nelson says that qualification to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France will definitely have a positive effect on the local game.

“The young (local) girls are now looking to become another Khadija Shaw, Deneisha Blackwood, Dominic Bond Flasza, so they look up to the players. To be at the FIFA Women’s World Cup is the optimum. They see the standard and the quality of play and aspire to be better,” she continued.

“What is lacking is the amount of time the girls play. We are really at a disadvantage. In the schoolgirls league, most of the teams are at a lower level. With the Premier League, the time is very short compared to the United States, where they play for nine months. We play for two and three, so that is woefully lacking as the more you practise, the better you get, so with less practice, it becomes hard for us.

“But we have been making the transition. We have Under-15 girls in a development programme that augurs well for the future. In Jamaica, we have grass-roots programmes, with the younger girls getting involved. So we are starting from the bottom, and many of these girls are now taking part in the grass-roots festivals,” she said.

Nelson added that she would be very disappointed if qualification for France did not help to lift the standard of play locally.

“They (local players) are more willing and enthused, and they have seen what the others have achieved and want to be a part of that, and the sky’s the limit,” she said.

While she expects that the Reggae Girlz’ historic qualification to the World Cup will eventually help to improve the sport locally, Nelson says that sponsorship will be key to this development. However, according to her, sponsorship from local companies is difficult to get, and the only option left is to look overseas for support for local female football competitions.

“I believe we need to get sponsorship, and that’s the number one. You can’t do anything without financing. When you, think about nutrition, medical expenses, everything takes cash to care.

“So we probably have to look beyond. We have a global world now, so maybe we have to look outside of Jamaica for sponsorship. Maybe we can get a brand or someone who can really come on board and help us achieve our goals and objectives,” she told The Gleaner.

Nelson said that young local players also need more competitions and more games to grow and develop and that the Jamaica Football Federation’s grass-roots programme is now playing a lead role in this area.