Lady Jags call for “equal and fair treatment”

- Players write to First Lady and Sport Minister; GFF President unaware of concerns

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The Lady Jags, Guyana’s national female football team, have written to First Lady Arya Ali and Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr., seeking their intervention in addressing the disparity that exists between the men and women national team programmes.

Signed by the majority of players who have been with the female programme since 2009, the players said they are united in their call for “equal and fair treatment.”

“We are writing to express our frustrations around the unfair and inequitable distribution of resources and supports provided the female participants in comparison to our male counterparts,” the Lady Jags said in the letter, which was distributed to the media on Wednesday.

“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.”

In the letter, the Lady Jags highlighted some of their achievements, including Guyana’s record setting quarter-final placement at U-20 CONCACAF in 2020, the highest ranking in the world, male or female, in the FIFA world ranking of #75 in 2018, Guyana’s first outing at a CONCACAF Olympic Qualifier in 2016 and 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.

The Lady Jags decried that lack of games for the last three years, noting that their male counterparts have been relatively active during that time.

“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,” the letter stated.

“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.”

Meanwhile, President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), Wayne Forde, speaking to News Room Sport on Wednesday afternoon, indicated that he learnt of the letter through a “third party” source.

While he noted that an official statement would soon be issued by the local governing body, Forde pointed out the Federation was never informed of any of the concerns raised in the letter by the players.

He also highlighted that the International Support Group, the body responsible for engaging the international players and communicating with the Federation on female football matters, never brought those issues to the attention of the GFF.

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