The Reggae Boyz was the appellation given to the Jamaican World Cup Squad in 1998. The national soccer team were the first Commonwealth Nation in the Caribbean to qualify for the World Cup tournament in France. Soccer in Jamaica proved especially popular within the reggae community, as displayed in the documentary Reggae On The Ball, which featured Bob Marley and Burning Spear. The national team included players from Wadada and Harbour View, alongside English players with Jamaican parentage. Before even qualifying for the finals, the team undertook a recording session with Sly And Robbie, the result of which was ‘Kick It’. The single highlighted the DJ skills of Paul Hall, Fitzroy Simpson and Donald Stewart, who were supported by the team alongside Maxine Booth and Skyjoose. When, in November 1997, the team qualified for the finals, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson declared a National Holiday, which also led to celebrations from within the reggae community. In addition to ‘Kick It’, notable releases included the UK chart hit ‘Rise Up’, performed by Jamaica United (which featured, among others, Buju Banton, Toots Hibbert, Ziggy Marley, Shaggy, Diana King, Ini Kamoze and Tony Rebel), soca star Astronaut’s ‘Jamaica World Cup’, Donna Marie’s ‘Bam Bam Reggae Boyz’, and Sanchez’s ‘Reggae Boyz Goin’ To France’, while Leon Leiffer of the Blackstones, with the UK-based Reggae ’98 crew, chanted ‘Go Jamaica Go’.
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