FIFA and the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) hosted the Women’s Football Com-Unity Seminar in Kingston, Jamaica, between Monday 19 September and Thursday 22 September to help develop girls and women’s football across the country.
JFF President Captain Horace Burrell said at the closing ceremony, "I have listened attentively to all the seminar participants and coaches, and what I've heard is that this is the best thing that has happened to the development of women’s football in this country. I feel encouraged, energized, and ready to go."
Over 70 participants from the 14 JFF parish associations, women’s clubs, community groups, media and sponsors participated in the four-day seminar. The objectives, according to the JFF, were getting more girls playing football in Jamaica; raising awareness of the sport across the island; getting more women involved in the technical aspects of the sport, including coaching, administration and refereeing; and building partnerships with local organisations including the government.
FIFA Women’s Football Ambassador Carolina Morace kicked off the Seminar with an entertaining and uplifting account of her experiences in women’s football. Morace is a former Italy player and was most recently the coach for Canada at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Throughout the week, the media attention surrounding Morace and her work in Jamaica was tremendous as multiple television stations, radios and newspapers were clamouring for interviews.
Representatives from the JFF shared their challenges, opportunities and visions for women’s football in Jamaica, declaring a commitment to establishing Women’s Committees in each of the country’s 14 parishes. They will also look to organise four regional women’s football seminars, one in each confederation.
The representatives also emphasised the elements necessary for the development of female football in Jamaica. They recommended a support structure surrounding the game across the island that includes a clear player development pathway, appropriate facilities, quality coaching and referee education, and a communications and marketing strategy specifically for women's football.
Members of local television, newspaper and radio stations also attended the Symposium. They shared their perspective that women’s football in Jamaica faces a low audience interest, unlikely sponsorship support and inadequate funds. However, they each declared that with the JFF leading the way, they could help change this by exposing talent and fostering recognition of players, thus extending the reach of the female football program and heightening the game’s prestige.
Each media house proposed a committed, working relationship with the JFF to help raise the profile of female football in Jamaica, to which the seminar participants gave a raucous round of applause.
FIFA Instructors presented marketing and communication strategies in support of women’s football in Jamaica, and at the end of each day, the JFF facilitated workshops for the participants to discuss how each of these topics may be implemented within the Jamaican football community. The lively debates uncovered an array of recommendations.
“The group showed remarkable energy and creativity during the discussions. This enhances FIFA’s belief in supporting women’s football in Jamaica,” said Gregory Engelbrecht, FIFA's Development Manager for the Americas.
On Wednesday, Morace presented a coaching education session about technical player development for 20 coaches from the Sherwin-Williams Women's League.
The JFF presented to FIFA their findings, recommendations and plans for the development of girls and women's football in Jamaica on Thursday at the association's main office in Kingston.
Finally, the FIFA Women’s Football Com-Unity Seminar ended with a fun and energetic football festival for over 100 girls from the U-15 age group at Kingston’s Sabina Park, with Parliament representative Lisa Hanna, Burrell and Morace kicking off the festivities. A press conference concluded the event where the JFF reported their main findings to the participants and the media.
“FIFA’s goal is to ensure that every woman and girl who wishes to participate in football has the opportunity to do so,” said Mayrilian Cruz-Blanco, FIFA Women’s Football Development Manager. She continued, “The JFF has taken a tremendous step toward female football development by organizing this seminar, and FIFA looks forward to supporting the continued growth and development of girls and women’s football in Jamaica.”