Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw believes there is no praise too high for Cedella Marley and her exploits which resulted in the country now boasting a solid women’s football programme.

Shaw, in a heartfelt post on Saturday, expressed gratitude to Marley for the work done over the past 10 years, as she partnered with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to raise funds for the Reggae Girlz, which inevitably led to consecutive FIFA Women's World Cup appearances in 2019 and 2023.

Marley on Thursday announced her resignation as Global Ambassador for Jamaica’s women’s football programme, citing the current state of affairs involving the senior Reggae Girlz World Cup representatives and the JFF as reason behind her departure.

She also stated that the federation is “neither receptive nor interested" in her "current manner of support”, and, as such, demitted the role with immediate effect.

As such, Shaw, who rose from humble beginnings and is now enjoying a decorated professional career at Women’s Super League (WSL) outfit Manchester City, paid tribute to Marley, who she said gave not only her, but other young girls, a chance to believe in their dreams.

“To the woman, who fought for us through all the constant struggles and mistreatment, I am forever grateful,” Shaw declared.

The towering striker, who is one of only a few players to have represented Jamaica at the Under-15, Under-17, Under-20 and senior levels, simultaneously at times, recalled when JFF cut the women’s programme due to a lack of funding.

With over three years of inactivity at that time, the country was kicked off the FIFA Women’s World Rankings. However, Marley gave the programme a new lease on life in 2014.

Through her tenacity and committed fundraising efforts, Marley ensured the Reggae Girlz have not only etched their names in the annals of Jamaica’s and the world’s sporting history on numerous occasions, but are currently ranked at number 40. They only recently slipped from the country’s highest ever ranking of 37.

“When the senior programme was abandoned in 2008, due to lack of funding, there was no senior pathway. In 2014, 10 years ago, you came, and you kept every young girl’s hopes alive to one day represent Jamaica at the highest level,” Shaw said.

“(I remember) when you said ‘they said y’all couldn’t, and I said tell me why. When they said y’all wouldn’t, I said watch me.’ Here we are years later, qualified for two World Cup back-to-back, all because of your dedication and willingness to ensure we are given an opportunity. For that I am forever grateful,” she added.

Despite her resignation, Marley declared that she would continue to support the Reggae Girlz’ journey via the Football is Freedom initiative.

The Bob and Rita Marley Foundation has also cut ties with the country's governing football body in what it said was a move was to “reassess its priorities.”

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts, said he is saddened that both Cedella Marley, as well as the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation have opted to cut ties with the country's women's programme.

After Marley resigned from her role as Global Ambassador for Jamaica’s women’s football programme, the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation followed suit and announced its discontinuation of funding support to the JFF and the national women’s programme.

A statement signed by the Foundation’s General Counsel Lecia-Gaye Taylor and released on Thursday, said the decision was not made lightly given their “long and meaningful” partnership with the JFF over the years.

While Marley pointed to the current state of affairs involving the senior Reggae Girlz World Cup representatives and the JFF as reasons behind her departure, the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation said its move was to reassess its priorities.

“We have been privileged to witness the growth and development of women’s football in Jamaica, and we are proud of the achievements and progress that have been made during our collaboration.

“However, as circumstances change and our foundations evolves, we must reassess our priorities and the impact of our funding on various causes and organizations. In light of our revised focus and funding priorities, we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer continue our financial support of the JFF programme,” the statement read.

Like Marley, the Foundation expressed its commitment to the empowerment of girls and the development of women’s football in Jamaica and, as such, will continue its support under the Football is Freedom initiative.

Both Marley and the Foundation, have been instrumental benefactors to the country’s governing football body over the years and their absence have started to raise questions about how the JFF will fill that huge gap in its JFF’s coffers, a fact Ricketts is very much aware of.

“I am saddened by the unfortunate decision of Miss Marley to cut ties with the women's programme at this time. This is even more so as we are of the view that we had made significant progress in the discussions and are just awaiting the World Cup players to come back to us and advise of their availability. We must thank Miss Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation for all the support that they have given over time. We want to assure her that the gains that have been made will be concretised as we move into the future,” Ricketts said in a release.

“We are happy that she [Marley] will continue to lend support to local women's football through the "Football is Freedom" initiative and are eager to offer any support that might be requested. The JFF no doubt will always welcome the contribution of Miss Marley as we continue to develop women's football and provide a path for the young girls in Jamaica,” he ended.



© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.