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The Inside Scoop on Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz at the Women’s World Cup

The Reggae Girlz have made it to the World Cup, and their benefactor, Cedella Marley, could not be more proud.

It’s been a long road to the World Cup for Jamaica’s women’s soccer team—aka the Reggae Girlz. As has been reported in The New York Times, the Miami Herald, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and ESPN, Cedella Marley has been the driving force behind their ascent: raising money and awareness, even finding them a coach. So how does she feel, now that the girls have fought their way back into existence, and made it to the World Cup? “I am very proud,” she says. “They are such good girls. And I am nervous for them. But there’s nothing else I can do, except take them to dinner in Paris!”

To celebrate the Reggae Girlz—and the Marley family’s enduring love of soccer—we are dropping a capsule of shirts and jackets emblazoned with iconic pictures of Bob Marley playing the game, a collaboration with Organic Sound. Best of all, $1 from each item sold goes to the Reggae Girlz Foundation.

The Story

One afternoon in 2014, Cedella’s son, Skip, came home from school with a flier  from his soccer coach, asking parents to consider donating money to resurrect Jamaica's women's soccer team. She couldn’t believe it when she learned that the team hadn't existed for much of the previous four years. 

Since then, Cedella has been a constant champion of the Reggae Girlz. To raise awareness, Cedella released a catchy song in 2014 about the team called “Strike Hard,” which she sang along with her brothers Stephen and Damian. In tandem, she aided an Indigogo campaign, matching each dollar with $100 of her own money, eventually reaching their goal of $50,000. Later, she persuaded the philanthropic Alacran Foundation to become a major contributor. She even convinced Hue Menzies, who runs a prominent youth soccer club near Orlando, to come aboard as coach—without pay. All the fundraising has kept the team alive, but on a shoestring. In advance of the Cup, Cedella brought the girls to South Florida, where they held fundraisers, auctions, pep rallies and scrimmages to raise the remaining money needed to get to France.

The Girls  

Cedella glows when talking about the girls, and hopes the world gets to know them during their time at the Cup. “This is their future,” Cedella says. “This is how they get into colleges, and that’s how leagues pick them out. Bunny got a Nike deal—that’s a start.” Khadija “Bunny” Shaw is the star forward, and was the Southeastern Conference’s offensive player of the year in 2018. Also on the team is Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt’s cousin, Chanel Hudson-Marks. 

“The more visibility that we have, the more interest that we are going to get.” So while Cedella will still play godmother of sorts to the Reggae Girlz, she wants to take a step back and let them shine. “They need to be the face of the campaign now.” 

How to Help

Support the team by purchasing a piece from Tuff Gong’s latest collaboration, inspired by Bob Marley’s love of soccer. For every Soccer Capsule piece sold, we donate $1 to the Reggae Girlz Foundation. You could also wear your Reggae Girlz fandom on your sleeve—or around your neck or your wrist. Cedella designed Reggae Girlz charms and bangles, whose proceeds benefit the team.

And of course, cheer on the talented and resilient Reggae Girlz at the Cup—and beyond. Cedella is “already two steps ahead,” she says. “I’m thinking about the Olympics.”

 


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