Bob Marley’s Daughter, Cedella, And Jamaican Female Soccer Team Reggae Girlz Make World Cup History

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[Black Women's Sports]
Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley, with Reggae Girlz bottom right, in black
Photo: Facebook screenshot

Bob Marley would be proud of what his daughter, Cedella, has just done for Reggae Girlz...

The Jamaican female soccer team, the Reggae Girlz, with the help of Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella Marley, have just made history becoming the first female soccer team to qualify from the Caribbean.

Bob Marley, a big soccer fan, and player himself, would approve of Cedella’s actions.

Cedella Marley is the daughter of Bob Marley and Rita Marley. She was named after her grandmother—Bob’s mom, Cedella Booker. Cedella Marley is a singer who toured the world with the Melody Makers, alongside her brothers Ziggy Marley and Steven Marley. Cedella is also the mother of Reggae musician Skip Marley.

Because of financial woes, the female Jamaican soccer program was in trouble and the Reggae Girlz appeared close to being dissolved in 2014. But Cedella championed a successful international effort to raise funds to continue Jamaica’s female soccer program, with the help of her father’s Bob Marley Foundation. Because of that, The Reggae Girlz will be making history when they participate in this year’s World Cup, in France.

The World Cup runs for a month, from June 7 to July 7. The Reggae Girlz will face Italy, Brazil and Australia in the first round.

On Wednesday, when the Reggae Girlz beat Panama in the Concacaf Women's Championship third-place play-off, the feat was described by the Jamaican press as "almost super-human." Dominique Bond-Flasza scored the winning spot-kick to secure the win for the Reggae Girlz—sending them to the World Cup. Reggae Girlz head coach Hue Menzie, after the game said, "Big up to Cedella Marley for putting her neck on the line for us."

Cedella admitted, to the BBC, it was difficult at times to watching the Girlz qualifying match against Panama.

“There were a couple of moments when I had to leave the room because I was going light-headed,” said Cedella. "I went outside and started to meditate. By the time the last penalty went in we were all on the floor. Daddy would probably not be surprised, when I put my foot into something stuff happens. He'd be like, 'that's my girl'."

Michael Ricketts, president of the Jamaican Football Federation, talked about the importance of this historical moment.

“I’m just absolutely overwhelmed, sometimes we realistically have to pinch ourselves to be absolutely sure Jamaica is actually in the World Cup,” said Ricketts. “This qualification will have a huge impact on Jamaica. It has motivated and inspired, provided a catalyst and impetus for some dysfunctional communities, some young girl or boy can use these Reggae Girlz as an example. But we are still struggling as it relates to corporate entities coming on board.”

Financial support for the Reggae Girlz from Jamaica’s government has been poor in the past. Some complain that the Jamaican soccer federation has done very little to help the Reggae Girlz.

Reggae Girlz goalkeeper Nicole McClure, 29, criticized them saying “Their attitude has been pretty poor. We’ve always been an afterthought, and we’re still fighting for equality. We want a seat at the table. It’s been quite frustrating.” McClure said that without the help of Cedella “there would be no Reggae Girlz.”

Besides Cedella, the philanthropic Alacran Foundation has become a sponsor of the Reggae Girlz. The Alacran Foundation’s stated goal is to facilitate “international collaborations, provides funding and invests in art, music, sports and social initiatives that increase education and inclusion for youth and communities.”

Jamaican consul general for the Southern United States Oliver Mair admitted the female soccer athletes are not supported like the male athletes.

“The men have always received far more support. So, when the women qualified for the World Cup, it caught us all by surprise,” said Mair. “When you start on the road, you are on your own. They had a dream, a vision. They started to do well and more people have come on board.”

Reggae Girlz coach Hue Menzies talked to the Miami Herald about the milestone.

“We proved that when you put a little bit into something, you can get a lot out of it,” Menzies said. “We didn’t have any resources. People from other countries called me to ask how we did it. We just blocked any adversity that came to us and stepped over it. We had to put financial assets into this project to make it work. Some of these women have put careers on hold. For the region, it’s massive. But this is just one step. We hope other Caribbean nations like Trinidad, Haiti and Guyana will follow.”

The Reggae Girlz team say they are ready for the challenge of playing in the World Cup.

“We are not going in with an intimidated mind-set,” midfielder Kayla McCoy said. “Even though we haven’t been there before and other countries have been there many times, I don’t think it is a daunting task for us. We’re very confident in the personnel and skill and talent we have. As a group we have our own identity, and we know how we want to play. If we stick to that, I think we’ll be very successful.”

Cedella Marley makes it clear she, and the Reggae Girlz, are not satisfied with just qualifying for the World Cup.

"The Reggae Girlz have held their own against some of the best, mainly on raw talent and passion for the sport," Cedella said. "We still have a lot to prove. A lot of people make history but the only way to keep our relevance is to keep winning. We don't compete to qualify, we compete to win.”

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