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Bob Marley's Daughter Cedella's Fundraising Helped Fund Jamaican Women's Soccer

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2019

Sisters Cedella (L) and Karen Marley (R) pose on arrival for the Los Angeles Premiere of 'Marley', a film by Kevin MacDonald, on April 17, 2012 in Hollywood, California. The definitive life story of Bob Marley opens nationwide in the US on April 20. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

The oldest daughter of iconic reggae singer Bob Marley, Cedella Marley, helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Jamaican women's soccer team, helping to resurrect the team after it had its funding cut.

"People were saying no to [the women], and it was for no reason," she told Sam Borden of ESPN.com. "The more I got involved, the angrier I got."

The 51-year-old Marley donated her own money, released a song "Strike Hard" and started an Indiegogo campaign to get the women's team back on its feet in 2014 after it hadn't played any games in years. Despite her efforts, the Jamaican federation once again broke up the team in 2016.

Marley wasn't surprised.

"Coming from Jamaica? Not really," she said of the decision to end the women's team, laughing. "I think they would like to see girls in bathing suits and tennis skirts versus cleats and soccer gear."

Marley was unfazed, per Borden. She convinced Hue Menzies to volunteer as the head coach without pay. She got art philanthropist Alessandra Lo Savio to contribute. She reformed the team, and they repaid her by qualifying for this summer's women's World Cup. 

Despite that qualification, it remains a possibility that the women's team could again get cut in the future.

"I might not be a very popular guy at this time," Jamaican federation executive Dalton Wint told Borden. "But remember, after this euphoria wears off, the real deal continues."

The men's team hasn't had much success on the international level, reaching just one World Cup in 1998, which has left the women's team and its supporters wondering why the men continue to get funding while the women are offered no such guarantee. 

The United States women's team likely sympathizes.

While the USWNT players aren't in danger of losing their team, they have endured unequal treatment compared to the USMNT. While the USWNT has won three of the seven Women's World Cup tournaments, the USMNT has never won one and didn't even qualify for the 2018 event. Despite the women consistently being an elite team and the men never fielding more than a middling squad, the USMNT players earn higher wages.

For the Jamaican women, however, the opportunity to play at all is their fight. 

"It's a choice that the girls have made to play, and we should give them an even field to go out and kick 
the ball." Marley said. "Football is freedom. That's a quote from Bob Marley."

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