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Friday, April 18, 2014
Last Updated Wednesday, December 31, 1969

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Jamaica's Reggae Girlz Initiative – readying a women’s football team for young females


LAUDERHILL - October has been declared Reggae Girlz month by the municipalities of Broward County -Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes and Miramar. This was announced by Ms. Lavern Deer, President of the Jamaica High School Alumni Sporting Network (JHSASN) at the Reggae Girlz Awareness Conference last Friday (Feb. 15) in South Florida.

The initiative to develop the Reggae Girlz - a Jamaican national women’s football programme - received overwhelming support with the staging of the evening’s programme held at the Sheraton Suites in Plantation, and brought together nearly 200 supporters among them Jamaican government officials, nationals of the Diaspora, members of the Jamaican football fraternity, as well as the business community, and support from the public officials of the USA from the municipalities of Broward County.

Ms. Deer passionately shared her vision to spearhead this venture, which she expressed could be likened to the Penn Relays championships, as she challenged the community to support the women’s football team.

Her primary objective, she continued was to find ways to help school girls through mentorship and social development in order to make this project a reality. The awareness campaign would also include funding, training, education, and health and wellness, and in turn, create a pipeline of support in this regard.

Guest speaker at the conference, Minister with responsibility for Sports in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, lauded the foresight of the Jamaica High School Alumni Sporting Network (JHSASN) in spearheading this project. The Minister paid gratitude to the three supporting cities, so far, in their quest “to join in a venture to improve and increase awareness of the potential and profitability of the Reggae Girlz, a team on the cusp of international greatness.”

Talking about Jamaica’s prowess on the international stage, especially achievements at the Olympics, and our success in football when the Reggae Boyz, in 1998, created national pride, the Minister called for sponsorship and support for the women’s football programme, stating that “the world is ready for the Reggae Girlz to succeed and take their rightful place on the global stage”.

According to Minister Neita Headley, the love for Jamaican sports activities – cricket and soccer – are examples of the success and patriotism already associated with these events becoming major events in the South Florida community.

The Minister also praised the Diaspora for its continued support to Jamaica’s economic and social development citing contributions to health, education, culture and sports. “The importance of the Diaspora cannot be overstated when so many associations come together with support from city governments here in the USA,” indicating the strength of the Diaspora ties in the migrant community, she added.

Turning to government initiatives that would expand and broaden participation in the national sports development, the Minister continued that Jamaica’s new National Sports Policy Paper addresses among other things, the strengthening of ties with the Diaspora in the areas of investment and partnership in sports development.

She also spoke of the development of the Sports Marketing and Research Team (SMART), a programme under her portfolio, working jointly with the Ministry of Tourism, to market the sports component of ‘brand Jamaica” – finding viable opportunities to enhance Jamaica’s sports development.

The Minister also mentioned that plans for the establishment of a National Sports Museum have already begun, as well as the formation of the National Sports Council in Jamaica, an advisory body to ensure the harmony in the industry and the execution of policy.

The Minister was introduced by Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths who also commended the efforts of the JHSASN and the networking affiliates for the timely promotion of the cause of the Reggae Girlz.

There was an outpouring of support and testimonials recognizing the cause for the Reggae Girlz initiative. These included president of the Jamaica Football Federation, Captain Horace Burrell, Mr. Vinmore Blaine, Technical Coordinator of Jamaica’s National Women’s Football, Ms. Elaine Walker-Brown, Chairperson, Jamaica Football Federation Women’s Committee and Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Committee, and Under-20 Team member, USA born Marlo Sweatman.

Veteran sports broadcaster, Mr. Ed Barnes, was master of ceremonies of the night-long event which was attended by nearly 200 persons representing Jamaican charitable and alumni associations, business sector and public and city officials.



Attendees at the recent Reggae Girlz Awareness Conference. From Left:- Ms. Lavern Deer, President of the Jamaica High School Alumni Sporting Network (JHSASN), Dr. Susan Davis, Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board representative for the Southern USA, Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, and Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths.




Attendees at the recent Reggae Girlz Awareness Conference in Fort Lauderdale. From left:- veteran sports broadcaster, Ed Barnes, Elaine Walker-Brown, Chairperson, Jamaica Football Federation Women’s Committee and Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Committee; Ms. Lavern Deer, President of the Jamaica High School Alumni Sporting Network (JHSASN), Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley; Under-20 Team member, USA born Marlo Sweatman; Dr. Susan Davis, Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board representative for the Southern USA; Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths and Captain Horace Burrell, President of the Jamaica Football Federation.






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