Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
By Abby Halpin (AP) — The Jamaica “Reggae Girlz,” a team ranked 38 spots lower than No. 5 France, held Les Bleues to a scoreless draw Sunday to score their first-ever Women’s World Cup point.
Afterward, while the French players appeared gloomy, the Jamaica players embraced each other on the Sydney Football Stadium field and cheered.
To get here, they relied on family, friends and fans to cover some of their expenses.
“The past few years, to be honest, it’s been tough,” goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer said. “We always have support from outside of the federation that we need. Without them, we probably wouldn’t be here.”
In the months leading up to the team’s departure to Australia, Jamaica midfielder Havana Solaun’s mother, Sandra Phillips-Brower, launched a GoFundMe, named Reggae Girlz Rise Up, for the team.
The GoFundMe raised around $50,000. A separate fundraiser totaled more than $45,000.
“My mom is very much so a go-getter,” Solaun said after Sunday’s 0-0 draw. “She’s obviously a big fan and she was just like, ‘I want to help in whatever way I can.’”
Last month, the Reggae Girlz released a statement on social media expressing their “utmost disappointment with the Jamaica Football Federation.” Jamaica is among several Women’s World Cup teams that have expressed frustration over pay issues and national-team budget cuts.
Jamaica’s players claimed that they have not received payment that is guaranteed in their contracts. Due to budget constraints, Jamaica has had to miss valuable practice time, including several friendly matches leading up to this year’s tournament.
During a pre-match news conference, Jamaica forward Atlanta Primus said the Reggae Girlz will not discuss the money issues during the tournament.
“We’re very much here to play and that’s our primary focus,” she said.
They showed that focus in holding a French team that has finished as high as fourth in the Women’s World Cup, reaching the semifinals in 2011. The Reggae Girlz have qualified once before, in 2019, when they went scoreless throughout their group-stage matches.
Their next chance to play comes against Panama on July 29. The only thing dampening the excitement for the match is the fact that the Reggae Girlz will be without team captain Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, due to a red card she received in stoppage time in the match Sunday.