How Bob Marley’s daughter saved Jamaican women’s soccer

A piece of paper in the backpack of Bob Marley’s grandson.

See, that’s how this all began. One afternoon in 2014, Cedella Marley, Bob’s eldest daughter with his wife Rita, was handed a flier by her son, Skip, after he came home from school. The flier was from Skip’s soccer coach, and it asked parents to consider donating money to resurrect Jamaica’s women’s soccer team.

Cedella was startled. She lives outside Miami but is still royalty in Jamaica, leading Tuff Gong, the record label her father started, as well as the foundation named for him. She made some calls. Turned out, the women’s soccer team hadn’t existed for much of the previous four years because the country’s soccer federation cut the funding.

There were still girls youth teams, sure, but no senior national team that could try to represent the country at the Olympics or the Women’s World Cup.

Cedella bristled. Was it a soccer thing? she asked. Nope. The men’s team, known as the Reggae Boyz, had its funding fully intact.

“People were saying no to [the women], and it was for no reason,” Cedella says now. “The more I got involved, the angrier I got.”

Cedella thought about it. And made some more phone calls about it. And then decided to fix it, thrusting herself and a few dozen determined players on a journey that involved raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, challenging stifling gender norms, surviving tense elimination games and persisting despite a haunting feeling that their dreams might die anyway.

“They are pioneers now,” Dalton Wint, general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation, says of the women’s team. He shrugs. “And they will suffer from it.” Read More ,,,,,,

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