If it weren't for the family of one of the most popular reggae artists of all time, Jamaica might not be in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
The Reggae Girlz, as the national women's team is known, certainly wouldn't be in the international tournament if they hadn't succeeded on the pitch, qualifying for the Cup at the CONCACAF Women's Championship in October 2018 thanks to a shootout win over Panama. That victory ensured they will be the first Caribbean squad to ever compete in the worldwide women's showcase.
But as ESPN and The Washington Post recently reported, Jamaica also owes many thanks to Cedella Marley, the eldest daughter of the late Bob Marley, who helped revive the national team following a four-year hiatus resulting from funding cuts.
A reggae artist like her father before her, Cedella was first made aware of the women's struggles in 2014, when her son brought home a flier from school requesting donations for the team. Between 2010 and that time, The Post noted, the Jamaica Football Federation had essentially "abandoned" the women's team, leaving it "dormant" while investing its limited resources in the Reggae Boyz, Jamaica's men's national team.
"People were saying no to (the women), and it was for no reason," Cedella told ESPN. "The more I got involved, the angrier I got."
Her frustrations ultimately led to a "spearheading" of fundraising efforts for the team, as USA Today reported, with Cedella "using her pull -- as a top executive for her father's record label, Tuff Gong -- to raise awareness for the women's group of pioneers." The efforts included Cedella donating some of her own money to the cause, not to mention creating a song, "Strike Hard," in honor of the campaign, and they reportedly only intensified when the federation cut funds from the women's team once more in 2016.