Christopher Samuda knows sport is so much more than a game. He knows it inspires collaboration and teamwork, increases confidence, reduces stress and improves mental health.
It is with that in mind, that the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president considers the $25 million allotted to the Reggae Girlz as a small token to positively impact their journey to compete, as they again seek to rewrite the history books.
The Girlz, who will lock horns with Canada in a two-leg Olympic Qualifying playoff at the National Stadium on Friday, and again in Toronto, next Tuesday, are hoping to become the first Caribbean country to qualify for women’s football at the Olympic Games.
And if the Girlz required any further inspiration to secure positive results against the reigning Olympic champions, they would have taken it from the JOA’s support, which is in collaboration with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the Bob Marley Foundation, as $15 million goes directly to the programme, with the remaining $10 million to be paid out as player incentives.
Those incentives include bonuses for goals scored, assists made, clean sheets, and team prizes for Olympic qualification.
According to Samuda, the funding and, in particular, the incentive is to alleviate whatever pressure the Girlz may feel approaching this, another significant hurdle, along their path to success.
“The JOA’s investment of $25 million is not by coincidence, we understand that the infrastructures for the talent of sport, the aspirations of our athletes and our footballers, must be funded if we are to achieve the results that we so desire. The Reggae Girlz are ready to write and dramatize another chapter in the history of football in qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris.
“They’re ready to raise the curtain and to give a command performance. They’re ready for the road, for destiny shall arrive on the 22nd at the National Stadium,” Samuda told Sportsmax.tv.
As it has been from the onset, Samuda again reminded Jamaicans that the Girlz accomplishments at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in July, is a source of national pride.
For as much as the Girlz gave when they held top-ranked France and Brazil to goalless stalemates, followed by a 1-0 win over Panama on their way to being the first Caribbean team –male of female –to contest the knockouts since Cuba in 1938, Samuda believes a little love from Jamaican supporters would be a mere drop in the bucket to repay the players’ efforts.
“What the Reggae Girlz need from Jamaica is solidarity and love, sweet love, and they want it in the National Stadium. Our Job is to be with the Reggae Girlz on the 22nd. The business of sport is that job in respect of which we are given a line of credit to make meaningful and profitable lives being lived in sport and to earn dividends for sport and a nation,” Samuda said.
“But in all cases of credit, there is payback time. The Reggae Girlz have gifted us very creditable performances, they have given us credit and now it is payback time. So, on the 22nd bring your wallet, bring your purse, bring your safety deposit box and support the Girlz. There must be a pilgrimage to the National Stadium on the 22nd,” he added.
On that note, Samuda declared his association’s long-term commitment of our resources, focus and energy to help break down barriers that not only limit access to sport, but also hinder the growth of sport locally.
“The JOA continues to be driven to use sport in giving our sportsmen and women a sense of purpose and being. Sport for all, all for sport, continues to motivate us in affording all sport opportunities for growth and development. For we, the JOA, we have a business contract with our member associations and federations to fuel current hopes to ignite tomorrow’s ambition to inflame every aspirational talent in any and every sport to be and to become an Olympian, not only in performance, but more importantly in character,” Samuda asserted.
“As a local apex governing body for Olympic sports, we also have a business contract with the people of Jamaica to build a nation in sport and among all of us, the Reggae Girlz, fans, stakeholders, there is a social contract to make legendary the contribution of the sport of football to the fabric, to the soul and to the spirit of Jamaica,” he ended.