‘We have to take time to grow’
Walker-Brown responds to Reggae Girl’s call for players’ union
IN A recent interview with fifpro.org, Reggae Girl and FIFPRO council member Chinyelu Asher said that after their struggles for remuneration from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) after their historic 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification...
IN A recent interview with fifpro.org, Reggae Girl and FIFPRO council member Chinyelu Asher said that after their struggles for remuneration from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) after their historic 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification and participation, the next step is to organise a players’ union.
However, chairperson of the JFF women’s committee, Elaine Walker-Brown, has responded to say that the Reggae Girlz should not get ahead of themselves but take things in stride.
Asher, in her interview, recalled that before and after the 2019 qualification, although the Reggae Girlz had given the federation enough ‘grace space’, there were still issues and they had to fight when it came to getting prize money from the tournament.
“We had a lot of worries even before the tournament started that when it came to the prize money, given to the federation to distribute to the players, that some things might get lost, and that’s what happened.
“We didn’t receive our hard-earned money. We decided to come together, unify our voices, and we came out with the ‘No Pay, No Play’ campaign,” said Asher.
She said putting the federation under public pressure eventually made them more inclined to do the honourable thing.
“Jamaica would benefit from having a players’ union,” said Asher.
“That’s our next step. I feel like we have the crux of a union, anything that brings together that unitary influence of players as a collective group. I hope we continue to improve in that regard.
“I feel the Reggae Girlz are pioneers in a lot of ways. It’s important we continue to take those next steps so everyone else, especially in our region, are all moving in that same direction,” she said.
Walker-Brown pointed to the strides the federation has made with the women’s programme since their 2019 qualification but said the organisation needed to take things a step at a time.
She also argued that the federation does not have the resources of bigger nations and that its senior Reggae Girlz, most of whom are professionals, should not compare it to those more well-resourced federations.
“We have to take time to grow. I do not see why we have to go to a union stage. There are things that can happen from the JFF that are not happening.
“But we are a small country and most of our players are pro, and as a nation, a lot of people don’t even believe women should be playing football.
“So they cannot look at the bigger nations and try to compete and do what they do,” said Walker-Brown.
She continued by saying that though the JFF aims to ensure that players are compensated and comfortable, the resources are limited.
“We will give them what we can get based on what we have, but we cannot look at the bigger nations and behave like them,” she reiterated.
“We are growing, and the more we grow, the more we will get and the more they will receive.
“So I do not think it (union) is necessary at this time. We have gone past the issues of the contracts and much of everything is in place. We have been correcting the mistakes in the last campaign, and we can only build on it.”
Meanwhile, Asher, who became a member of the players’ council in 2019, said she is relishing her membership.
“The GPC has encouraged me to dig into myself, interests and passions, and help me think about how my own personal player journey intersects with some of these issues. I’m continuously impressed with FIFPRO. This is an organisation that is much needed in the current climate. I’m looking forward to working with them over the next couple of years,” she said.