Presentation by Vice-President of the JFF at Women’s League Awards

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The following is the transcript of the speech made by Vice-President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Mr. Bruce Gaynor at the Awards Presentation of the 2016 JFF/SDF Women’s and Knockout League.

The Awards presentation took place on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017.

Transcript

Madam master of ceremony Paula Ann Porter Jones, the honorable olivia  grange, mp, cd minister of culture, gender, entertainment & sport: board members and staff of the JFF: representatives of the ministry and the sdf: clubs: players: affiliates: media: referees: invited guests: all: good evening.

Sport has huge potential to empower women and girls”

First i must apologize for the absence of our president Capt Horace Burrell, he sends his best wishes on behalf of the board of the JFF.

We at the JFF agree that sport has enormous power to generate real social, economic change and contribute to sustainable development, social cohesion and even to challenge mind set and prejudice.

In many countries, it has been recognized that sport can be a force to amplify women’s voices and tear down gender barriers and discrimination.  Women in sport defy the misconception that they are weak or incapable.  Every time they clear a hurdle or kick a ball, demonstrating not only physical strength, but also leadership and strategic thinking, they take a step towards gender equality.

So there is good evidence that participation in sports can help break-down gender stereotypes, improve girls’ and women’s self-esteem and contribute to the development of leadership skills.

Raising the self-esteem of our women is important in addressing some of our social challenges, including violence against women and so we can see how sport and football can help in tackling some of our current problems.

Despite this women and girls continue to face discrimination in access to sports as athletes and spectators, and face inequalities in media coverage, and sponsorship.

But women are far more visible in sports today than at any previous point in history.  

Interesting to note that since 1991, any new sport seeking to join the Olympic programme must have women’s competitions.  Yet even at mega events, women still face challenges.  

At the last FIFA women’s world cup in 2015, women were required to play on artificial turf, which is often regarded as more physically punishing than natural grass. It is impossible to imagine a men’s world cup on this type of surface. This led to the biggest names in women’s soccer doing something unprecedented: they sued the world soccer governing body.

A group of top international players filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the Canadian soccer association and fifa citing the fact that 2015 women world cup in Canada would be played on artificial turf instead of natural grass.

All six prior women’s world cups, and all 20 men’s, have been played on grass fields, because it’s considered a superior playing surface. Simply by pointing to gender discrimination, the lawsuit brought further to international attention the unfair circumstances under which women participate in sports.

Media attention to women´s sport in general is extremely low in comparison to men’s.  

In Jamaica, just have a look at the sports section of any of our daily papers on any day of the week. Chances are there are no photos and no stories of women athletes.  That has a very negative effect in sports women’s salaries and the access to sponsorships, tournaments, leagues and the capacity for showcasing their skills.

While sports events aim to promote values of fairness, there is also a dark side.  Violence against women and girls occurs in all countries and is becoming too frequent in ours. This happens in many situations, including in relation to sports events. We must protect our women and girls on and off the field.

A nation will lose its way when we act out our aggression on our women.

In closing, I must say that Jamaica is one of the countries that has a high ratio of female university graduates.

It is also reported that Jamaica has the highest percentage of women managers globally. A new study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found that Jamaica has the highest proportion of women managers, globally, ahead of countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

I bring this international perspective today to send one clear message.

Women deserve opportunities to excel in all areas, including football because all evidence suggest that given the opportunities, I repeat, all evidence suggest that if our female footballers are given the opportunities from corporate Jamaica and the sports media, Jamaicans would be proud as we are of our female track and field athletes and our leading swimmer.

Our women and girls’ competitions are the least sponsored or supported from corporate Jamaica.

The minister with assistance from the SDF was instrumental in saving the 2016/2017 women’s premier league and knockout competitions.

I want on behalf of the JFF and our president to sincerely thank the minister and the SDF for its sponsorship last year. It would not have happened without your intervention and I know the clubs and especially the players are pleased and indeed grateful.

As the JFF looks towards the 2017 season and beyond, we are seeking to ensure that the senior Women’s League is well positioned in our overall vision for the women’s programme.

So for this season these are some of our objectives as we seek to strengthen this important league

  1. We will ensure in deciding on the format that the league will play a big role in strengthening our senior national women’s team. We have to ensure that the structure will help to provide the best players for our national program.
  2. We will engage players, coaches and managers in improving the image of the league. We want to see confident, beautiful and competitive play on the field.
  3. We will further improve the promotion of the game and seek to make the games a family experience

 

  1. We will aim to begin the league early July so that when our women take to the field, there is no competition for spectators and referees.

These initiatives around the Women’s League will take place alongside greater collaboration with ISSA;JISA and parish associations in the strengthening of the women’s game overall. But especially at the youth level; ie grassroots; under 12; under 14; as well as schoolgirl level.

The JFF will be meeting with the current clubs in the women’s league in the next two weeks to get their feedback on proposals regarding the strengthening of the league.

I want to also specially thank Irie FM; Sherwin Williams and Wata for their support.

I also thank those other media houses who gave coverage.

I call on corporate Jamaica and the sports media to join the rest of the world and support female football much, much more

Finally congratulations to all winners; clubs and individual players. Special congratulations to barbican fc and coach Charles Edwards

Ladies and gentlemen, let us unite to build a stronger women’s football program in Jamaica.