Expansionist Blog: Jamaica players self-funding expensive trip highlights how much heritage means

Drew Darbyshire

Jamaica’s players having to self-fund in excess of £1,000 for their trip to Florida for their World Cup qualifiers just shows how important heritage is to people.

The Reggae Warriors became the first-ever Caribbean team to reach the Rugby League World Cup earlier this month.

They beat USA and Canada to claim the Americas Championship, which also acted as qualifiers for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which is hosted in England.

Jamaica’s squad was mainly made up of heritage players, but they had to spend around £1,000 from their own pockets to make history.

“Each player was asked to fund their flight which was just over £400 and take themselves some spending money while they were there so I’d say it probably cost them around £1,000 for the whole trip,” Jamaica coach Jermaine Coleman told loverugbyleague.com.

“That’s just the money they’ve spent. Some had to take a week off work, some are self-employed so they lost money from work and the school I work at were happy for me to go but I still had to take the week unpaid but I think if you asked any of the players, they would do it over and over again.  

“You probably can’t pick it up on the cameras but there was a lot of emotion going into that game and once we got the result in the last game against USA, there were lots of tears of happiness and tears of pride.

“It is our heritage and there were many of the boys ringing their parents and grandparents up saying how we’ve done it for them, so it’s a massive part of our culture. We’ve had people question us about the number of heritage players but I think that just shows how important heritage means to us.”

USA were the favourites to win the Americas Championship and gain qualification for the World Cup, but Jamaica were quietly confident that – with their team full of Super League and Championship talent – they could emerge triumphant.

Coleman added that the team’s togetherness is something that needs to be kept hold of going forwards.

“We’ve had a good couple of years building together, spending time together and getting to as many sessions as we could, Coleman added.

“Although it isn’t great that we had to fund the trip ourselves, I think that brought us closer together and gave us a real will power to go on and win it seeing as we all put our hands in our pockets to go there and achieve something.

“I don’t know if you can see my reaction when it happens but I’m pretty calm, I almost expected it as a group. I know how hard they work and how committed they are to the cause. Our desire to hold them out was unbelievable and to an extent, I was expecting and wanting it to happen but again, its just unbelievable what we achieved.

“The general thought of the group was that we could go there and do the job. We were quietly confident about that and we turned up with a bit of a point to prove. The English-born boys went over there all guns blazing and I think that’s testament to the group we have got.

“They’ve matured over the last couple of years and they understand where they are at. They have gone down in history and I think the confidence and belief in the group was that we were going to be successful and fortunately we were.”