I get excited about football. Our Reggae Girlz are doing very well, although they don’t get the support they deserve. So, enormous gratitude goes out to Cedella Marley, who has been championing the Jamaica women’s team for years and is not only a huge morale-booster but also helping to raise the profile of the team. I was thrilled to see that our awesome striker, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, is making waves in the UK now, as a prominent goalscorer for the Women’s Super League team, Manchester City. Having scored in her debut match, Bunny scored a hat-trick just last week in the Women’s FA Cup. (By the way, the leaders in the Women’s Super League happen to be Arsenal Women – I am a fanatical Arsenal supporter).
But I digress. Let me tell you about the Inaugural “Football Is Freedom” fundraising match between the national women’s teams of Jamaica and Costa Rica, to will take place on Sunday, October 24th at 5pm in Fort Lauderdale’s DRV PNK Stadium. The teams will arrive in South Florida on October 18 for a week of training and a two-game series.
Cedella Marley, Bob and Rita Marley’s daughter and CEO of the Bob Marley Group of Companies, is currently in her seventh year as Global Ambassador for the Jamaica Women’s Football Programme. Her new Football is Freedom Initiative aims to “provide tools and resources for the development and growth of women’s football throughout the Caribbean and Latin America as well as diaspora communities in the United States,” according to a September 28 press release.
Cedella Marley believes that the sport (which her father loved so much) can play an important role in empowering young women, offering opportunities on and off the pitch for education and advancement.
The Initiative’s key goals are:
1) Support the development of women’s football at the grass-roots level in the region by
funding existing programs/academies in the islands AND in diaspora communities in Canada
and the United States;
2) Supporting the growth and development of national teams by staging an annual exhibition
match/mini tournament to provide a quality training experience and raise funds that will go
directly into the women’s programs of the participating federations;
3) Invest in the holistic wellness of the players by funding scholarships and programs that
assist players with skill sets and tools to help them succeed outside of football once that
Besides helping to fund the new initiative, a portion of the proceeds from the Florida match will be donated to each national team. Marley says: “In 2014, I was honored to attend the FIFA U-17 WWC finals in Costa Rica (as the guest of the late Capt. Horace Burrell). The Costa Rican federation’s investment in women’s football has helped to inspire my own ideas about the impact that the women’s game could have once given the proper support. Having two of our strongest female teams come together like this is a chance to demonstrate the potential depth and power of women’s football in this region.”
In adherence to FIFA-mandated COVID protocols, the delegations will be housed
in protective isolation during the camp. The first match will be a closed-door scrimmage, and the
finale will be a fundraising match open to the public. The camp is the result of a combined effort by
the Bob Marley Foundation, Rita Marley Foundation, and Reggae Girlz Foundation. The match is
being presented by Cedella Marley in association with Black Tower Agency.
Gustavo Araya, FEDEFUTBOL General Secretary said:
“For the Costa Rican Football Federation it is a true pleasure to be able to participate in the first
edition of the “Football is freedom” Festival. From a sporting perspective, the fact that our female
players can compete with a team of such high caliber as the Jamaican team is immensely important.
And of course, getting the chance to participate in the beginnings of what this Foundation is going to
do makes us proud. The first edition of this festival, set to be held in Florida, will be of utmost
importance for our players as they look ahead to the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. We will also
use this opportunity to show how a foundation like this can impact young girls and get them excited
“I would like to wholeheartedly commend and congratulate our Reggae Girlz Ambassador Cedella
Marley and her team,” said Michael Ricketts, President of the Jamaica Football Federation. “Football is Freedom” can only help to broaden the interest and quicken the expansion of women’s football in Jamaica and the wider region. We are particularly proud that the initiative is being launched around a camp and an International Friendly game involving the Reggae Girlz. This will serve as invaluable preparation for their World Cup Qualifiers which begin in November. The Jamaica Football Federation stands ready to offer whatever assistance necessary to ensure the success of this venture and we look forward to participating vibrantly going forward. On behalf of every aspiring female footballer throughout Jamaica, I wish this progressive vision every success.”
In addition to the main event on October 24, there will be other activities:
• Pre-Game kickoff party/ Fan Zone experience with games, entertainment, and food trucks;
• Community Marketplace showcasing small businesses and organizations from the South Florida
diaspora communities; and
• A musical halftime performance (there has to be music!)
Football Is Freedom is presented by Cedella Marley Enterprises in association with Black Tower
Agency. Other sponsors and partners include Visit Fort Lauderdale, KICS International, Bob Marley Foundation, and Riddims Marketing.
Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster beginning October 6th. For information about group ticket purchases please contact the production office directly via email:
For vendor/food truck information please contact Riddims Marketing (954) 251-1643.
Further details about the event and the initiative are available in the Football Is Freedom app which can be downloaded in the Google Play and I Tunes stores October 6th
About Cedella Marley
As the first born of Bob and Rita Marley, Cedella Marley is a descendant of reggae royalty. As an
accomplished singer, an inspiring author, fashion designer and visionary entrepreneur, Cedella oversees
all Marley related business in Jamaica and is the Director of the both the Bob Marley and Rita Marley
Foundations. In addition, Cedella oversees Marley Holdings, a Marley family entity that manages all
aspects of the Bob Marley rights, including the rights to Bob’s name and likeness. Since 2014, Cedella
has been the global ambassador for the Jamaica Women’s Football Progamme. Her efforts to raise
awareness and support helped to bring the Reggae Girlz from obscurity to HISTORY as when they
became the first Caribbean national team to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
About Costa Rica Women’s National Team
Women’s soccer has grown a lot in Costa Rica and the Senior Women’s National Team in the Concacaf
region, being one of the teams in Central America with the most youth World Cup participation, in
addition to being the only UNCAF National Team that has attended a Cup. Women’s Soccer World Cup,
in Canada 2015.
In 2018, they won the silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla and
had also qualified for several Pan American Games, obtaining two bronze medals, one in 1999 in
Winnipeg and the last one in Lima, Peru in 2019.
The team presents a balanced group of players where the players abroad in professional leagues like
Shirley Cruz, Raquel Rodríguez, Daniela Solera, Stephanie Blanco and Priscilla Chinchilla stand out, along with figures from the national Women’s tournament such as Gloriana Villalobos, Mariana Benavides and Katherine Alvarado among others. Carolina Venegas, Gabriela Guillén, Daniela Cruz, Noelia Bermúdez and Lixy Rodríguez also stand out, along with young promises of Costa Rican soccer who are beginning to be incorporated into the plans of the National Team.
Amelia Valverde has been the team’s head coach since 2015. Since then, she has formed a solid group
of footballers, the majority with several youth World Cup processes in their experience.
Costa Rica prepares to host the next FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in August 2022.