Sun | Oct 25, 2020

JFF plans expansion of local women’s football

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2020 | 12:05 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Action between Arnett Gardens Women’s FC 
and Waterhouse Women’s FC during the Jamaica Football Federation Women’s League mid-season final at Winchester Park on Sunday, August 19, 2018.
Action between Arnett Gardens Women’s FC and Waterhouse Women’s FC during the Jamaica Football Federation Women’s League mid-season final at Winchester Park on Sunday, August 19, 2018.
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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts says that the organisation is targeting an expansion of the women’s domestic structure using FIFA COVID-19 relief funds.

The world football governing body allocated US$500,000 (over J$70 million) exclusively for women’s football as part of the COVID-19 financial relief package for member associations, in addition to the US$1 million (J$141 million) promised for the men’s programme.

Ricketts said that while the JFF has not yet put in a request for the funds, plans are being developed for their use, including adding a women’s second division, as well as grass-roots initiatives for local development.

“We have not yet requested a drawdown (where the figure is given in parts) because we have not yet put things in place for the women’s programme,” Ricketts told The Gleaner. “But, of course, we want to add some quality to our own Premier League and, of course, a second-tier women’s league as well. These are the directions that we are looking at.”

Among the proposal is that J$750,000 be allocated to all parish associations specifically for their women’s programmes, in addition to plans for youth development. Ricketts said that they will apply for the grant once the plans for the use of the funds are finalised.

“We want to get some young girls playing football and falling in love with football,” he said. “So we will be putting some energy into the grass-roots programme. We are working on a proposal for the parishes, and when this is ready, we will start asking for these funds.”

BUSINESS PLAN IMPORTANT

National senior women’s coach Hubert Busby said that while he is in support of the initiatives proposed for the local development of the game, he has stressed the importance of a business plan in conjunction with the proposal being developed for a proper long-term strategy for the local women’s game.

“I do think it has to be a five-year plan that has a true strategic plan in place,” he said. “If you do not have that business plan in place, the funds will dry out, and there is no way that you will sustain that, and then it will go away. What we are looking to do at the grass-roots level is fantastic, but it has to be done incrementally.”

National midfielder Havana Solaun says that financial support at the youth level is critical for young women to want a career in the sport.

“I believe it is important to invest in the women’s game and provide opportunities for young girls to get involved,” she said. “I think it’s important to have an organisation that helps guide and provide a pathway for growth and development for young girls who want to be involved and have dreams of playing football.”

Additionally, Busby said that provisions should be set aside for the Under-17 and senior teams to provide the necessary support to restart their footballing activities once restrictions are lifted.

The young Reggae Girlz were expected to participate in this year’s Concacaf Women’s Championship, the qualifiers for the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, but it was postponed because of the pandemic. The senior Reggae Girlz haven’t played or trained together since February, when they played in the Concacaf Olympic-qualifying tournament in the United States.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com