— Seek assistance of First Lady and Sport Minister
Guyana’s Senior Women’s National Football Team, commonly referred to as the Lady Jags, have taken the bold initiative of penning a letter to First Lady Arya Ali and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr, venting their frustrations at certain aspects of the Women’s programme in Guyana.
“As members of the Guyana Women’s National Football Team, first let us congratulate and commend you on the awesome work done since taking office. You have been an inspiration to young people in Guyana and in the diaspora, and we admire your drive to provide balance and equal opportunity for young girls and women.
“We are writing to express our frustrations around the unfair and inequitable distribution of resources and support provided the female participants in comparison to our male counterparts,” the Lady Jags’ letter is quoted as saying.
Cosigned by almost half of the women’s team, both locally and internationally based, the ladies provided details about some of the team’s stellar achievements, while drawing a contrast between the resources provided for the male team as compared to the female team.
They wrote, “We feel the impact of years of systemic bias. We have been relegated to second-class citizens because of our gender even though our records and accomplishments are amongst the best across the Caribbean region.
“A few of these highlights include:
1) Guyana’s record setting quarter-final placement at U-20 CONCACAF in 2020
2) The highest ranking in the world, male or female, in the FIFA world ranking of #75 in 2018
3) Guyana’s first outing at a CONCACAF Olympic Qualifier in 2016
4) Guyana’s first outing at a major CONCACAF Tournament, male or female, in 2010 when the Lady Jags qualified and competed at the Women’s Gold Cup
“Despite these accomplishments, our Women Senior National Team has sat dormant for three years while the men’s team continues to play multiple games each year.
“Unlike the men’s programme, our coaches and staff are volunteers, and our players receive no funding to offset the costs of national team participation. Families and players must make financial contributions so that we can have an opportunity to play.
“Imagine how disheartening it is to hear the men get paid for matches in addition to not having to buy their own practice kits or pay for their own practice fields. The financial support to the men’s programme at the exclusion of the women’s programme is wrong, and must stop.
“Every member of our team has sacrificed to help drive the goal of elevating the role of women in the sport of football across Guyana. We are happy to serve as role models, but the burden should not be ours alone to bear.
“Many of the women who have signed this letter have been with the programme since 2009. We are united in our call for equal and fair treatment.”
Not transferring any blame to the local Federation, the Guyana Football Federation, the ladies requested a formal meeting with both the First Lady and the Sport Minister, in order to better voice their concerns.
“We want to thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns, and would like to request a meeting with you. In fact, this issue was first raised by Sports Journalist Rawle Toney, who has been covering over progression around the world from the inception. He has been the singular voice in trying to bring some resolution, and it was through his suggestion for us to bring this situation to your attention that we write.
“He has spoken highly of you and Head of State Dr Irfaan Ali’s impressive resume since taking office in helping to foster a better Guyana and, more importantly, your Government’s push for sports development for all Guyanese.
“We look to developing equality within football, which will foster and nurture the next generation of female leaders across Guyana and the Caribbean,” The communication concluded.