August 24, 2019
Sports

How Bob Marley’s daughter got Jamaica to the Women’s World Cup

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When Bob Marley died in 1981, it's said he was buried with five precious items – his guitar, a bible, a bud of marijuana, a ring gifted to him by the Prince Asfa Wossen of Ethiopia, and a football.

"Football is a part of I," the music legend once said. "When I play, the world wakes up around me." He once told a journalist: "If you want to get to know me, you will have to play football against me and the Wailers."

One love: Bob Marley's second-eldest daughter, Cedella, helped bring the Jamaican women's team back to life after years of inactivity.

One love: Bob Marley's second-eldest daughter, Cedella, helped bring the Jamaican women's team back to life after years of inactivity.Credit:Angela Weiss / AFP

Bob was a devoted fan of Brazilian club Santos FC and even made Allan 'Skill' Cole, Jamaica's most celebrated player, his tour manager during the 1970s. Between concerts, on the road, they'd organise games within their travelling entourage.

It's been medically disproven, but urban legend still holds that the malignant melanoma under his toenail which eventually killed him at the tragically young age of 36 was caused by a football injury.

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Passion: Bob Marley loved the world game so much he was buried with a football.

Passion: Bob Marley loved the world game so much he was buried with a football.

Bob's love of the game was passed down to his kids. If it wasn't, it's fair to say Australia's next opponents at the Women's World Cup simply wouldn't be there.

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The Matildas meet Jamaica on Wednesday morning (5am AEST) in Grenoble, and the 'Reggae Girlz' have Cedella Marley, Bob's second-eldest daughter and herself an accomplished musician and businesswoman – to thank for their qualification.

"Football has always been a family affair," Cedella told the Herald. "Daddy, of course, loved football. Ziggy played for his high school growing up. It's just always been a part of our lives. It's something I enjoy to watch it, I enjoy kicking a ball around myself. It's the best thing."

Cedella's involvement with the team stretches back to 2014. Jamaica's women's team had been disbanded several years prior by the national federation due to a lack of funding and had fallen off FIFA's rankings list. One day, Cedella's youngest son Saiyan ("He's named after a character in Dragonball Z, that's the truth!") brought home a flyer from school. It was a fundraiser for the Reggae Girlz, who needed money to come back to life.

"I said, 'Jamaica don't have no girls team playing football!' – I never knew this," Cedella said. She dug deeper, calling up the head of the national federation to find out exactly what was going on, and why the women's team had been shuttered in the first place, yet the men's program was left untouched.

"It wasn't because they couldn't find raw talent in Jamaica – it was a money thing," she said. "I just asked – what's the problem? What's happening? He basically told me, 'we have no money.' I said, 'well, how can I help?'"

Cedella, now 51 and the CEO of the family's music conglomerate Tuff Gong International, became the team's leading ambassador and benefactor.

Simply having the Marley name – the closest thing Jamaica has to a royal family – associated with their cause meant that doors started to open for the Reggae Girlz, who managed to scrape together enough money through various Read More – Source

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