The FIFA and JFF staff on the final day of the FIFA Women’s Com-Unity Seminar in Kingston, Jamaica.
I was invited to serve as the Communications Instructor for the FIFA Women’s Com-Unity Seminar in Kingston, Jamaica, last week. It was an incredibly special opportunity for which I am grateful to many people for making happen. This is a post to share a bit about the trip and what I learned.
Before I dig into it, if you want the dry run on the itinerary and business side of things, check out the article on FIFA.com here. Also, please note that all opinions expressed on my blog here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organizations I work with.
The Jamaicans, and more specifically the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF), were the kindest and most welcoming hosts I could have ever imagined. The warm environment I always envisioned our Caribbean neighbors would provide was exactly what they delivered. Always smiling and excited to enjoy and explore the island with us, I felt like I was at home even though I was in a foreign country.
Breadfruit, guineps and beer.
We had fried fresh snapper at Port Royal where Captain Henry Morgan laid his claim back in the pirating days, enjoyed the atmosphere at an outdoor Reggae club and learned a few moves in a Latin dance hall. We went to two soccer games – one out in the countryside and one in downtown Kingston. I ate breadfruit, guineps, jerk chicken and the most amazing corn I think I’ve ever had.
But don’t let the social times fool you. It was the work-til-you-drop mentality that one would expect from FIFA. From the moment I arrived until the moment I departed, I was either presenting to the Seminar participants, editing power points, creating documents, or meeting with association representatives and government officials. Anyone who knows me, though, would read through the lines on this and recognize that I was in my element – It was intensely awesome!
The opening day of the FIFA Women’s Com-Unity Seminar in Kingston, Jamaica.
One of the most poignant things I’ve come to recognize from this trip is about FIFA’s relationship with its member associations. I’ve always known that FIFA is a membership-based organization, but did you know that with a FIFA membership comes an incredible breadth of benefits, beyond entry into tournaments and competitions like the World Cup? FIFA takes its commitment to development very seriously by offering a series of educational workshops and courses. Member associations can request that FIFA provide courses to educate and train instructors, coaches, referees, doctors, managers and journalists.
(The process really reminds me of the NSCAA and its non-residential course structure, whereby a member can request a course in their local community and the NSCAA provides instructors and curriculum.)
Thanks to my coworkers for grabbing a few snapshots on me on the job; I’m sharing them here because I think they offer a good look at the various environments we were in during the week. On the left, I’m chatting with the festival players at Sabina Park on our last day, and on the right, I’m presenting to the Seminar participants in the lecture hall.
As far as my role was concerned, I worked to demonstrate how a strategic approach to both traditional and new media can support the development of women’s and girls’ soccer in Jamaica. I presented various case studies from my work with Women’s Professional Soccer, and drew on my knowledge of Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer to demonstrate to the attendees how we’ve integrated TV, print and digital media to raise the profile of soccer in North America.
For more about how Jamaica is committed to embracing a women’s and girls’ soccer, visit the recap on FIFA.com here.
After hearing speeches from JFF representatives; media personnel from TV, newspaper and radio; marketing professionals; sponsors; and government officials, I left Jamaica with a strong belief that girls’ and women’s soccer can and will excel in Jamaica. I sincerely hope the FIFA Women’s Com-Unity Seminar helps to inspire those across the country who are responsible for sports programming to embrace soccer and give our beautiful game, and the girls and women who play it, the support they deserve.
Thanks to FIFA and the JFF for such an incredible time. Here’s to the continued development of women’s and girls’ soccer in Jamaica, in the Caribbean and around the world.