Legacy | Episode 4 Bob Marley’s Deep Love for Soccer Revealed
June 2, 2020 by Jenni Lynne
While many know of Bob Marley’s love of music, his second love in life may surprise people. The Marley75 celebration continues as the Marley family has released the highly anticipated Episode 4 from the mini docu-series, “Bob Marley – Legacy: Rhythm of the Game.” This episode delves into Marley’s intense love of soccer and its connection to his music. Episode 4 features unique clips of Marley playing soccer with his children and others.
In this epsiode, we learn Marley’s favorite team was the Brazilian club Santos, and his favorite players were Pele and Ossie Ardiles. Marley’s tour manager throughout the 1970s was a renowned Jamaican soccer player, Alan “Skill” Cole. Marley would practice soccer before each show to free his mind and relax, but Marley was competitive and played aggressively. Marley always had a guitar and soccer ball with him, and would set up impromptu games while on tour.
The episode begins a beautiful view of Jamaica’s lush green landscape with a soccer field in the middle. Marley’s son, Ky-Mani, shares how his first love was his mother, then soccer, showing just how deep his father’s love of the game went.
“Football is freedom” | Bob Marley
According to Neville Garrick, Marley’s art director, they would rent one suite while on tour that no one slept in. They would use the suite to play “Money Ball,” kicking the ball around the room; whoever broke something had to pay for it.
A 1977 soccer game led to the diagnosis of Marley’s cancer. According to Garrick, they were playing against journalists from France, and Marley wasn’t wearing proper shoes for playing. He was tackled by a journalist from New Musical Express, and Marley’s toenail was lifted. He continued to tour, but eventually returned to England to seek treatment for his toe. The doctors told Marley he had cancer and they needed to amputate his toe, but he refused. He never looked for a second opinion.
It wasn’t until September 1980, when Marley collapsed in Central Park, NY, that doctors discovered a large, cancerous brain tumor. He continued on to Pittsburgh two days later to perform, where he collapsed on stage, making it his final performance. Marley passed in May of 1981. It is said he is buried with five precious items: his guitar, a bible, a bud of marijuana, a ring gifted to him by the Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate of Ethiopia, and a soccer ball.
His love for soccer carries on thru his family. Marley’s daughter Cedella, resurrected the Jamaican women’s soccer team after their funding was cut by the country’s federation in 2014. She says that as Marley’s firstborn, it is her duty to carry on her father’s legacy. Thanks to her help, the team qualified for their first ever Women’s World Cup appearance in 2019, making them the first Caribbean nation to compete in the World Cup. The women of Reggae Girlz talk about how grateful they are.
Son, Ziggy, contributed his song “Africa Land,” to celebrate the 2010 World FIFA Cup and works closely with the Boys’ Town Football Club. Ky-Mani also has a soccer team that is on the way to making the premier league this year.
“It’s the sport of the people” | Ziggy Marley
The love of soccer is very strong in Jamaica. Members of the Wailers chat about playing soccer in the streets growing up. Performer Ras Michael, Marley’s sons Damian, Ky-Mani, and Ziggy, along with Neville Garrick,share how the game and music come together to create camaraderie. How both soccer and music take great discipline, something Marley did not lack.
Granddaughter, Donisha Prendergast, says the game creates a safe space and aids in youth building goals. It takes children off the street and teaches them life skills as team sports are a great place to foster those skills.
Thanks to a partnership between FIFA and Tuff Gong FC, to commemorate Marley’s love for the game, a limited-edition Marley “soccer kit” will become available on his website. It features the FIFA 20 Ultimate Team game mode. A special Marley FIFA 75 jersey is also available to purchase.
Bob Marley on LIFE
“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
In celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the final Exodus Tour show, the Marley estate has revealed they will be releasing a live stream of “Marley and the Wailers’ Live at the Rainbow” on June 4, 2020. The concert will air on Marley’s YouTube channel, and will be shown in the exact running order. It will also contain rarely-seen footage and a spellbinding performance of “Burnin’ and Lootin,” along with exciting never before seen backstage footage.
Additionally, the HD remastered official video for “Is This Love” from Bob Marley & the Wailers’ 1978 album, “Kaya,” has been released. The video was originally filmed at the Keskidee Youth Centre in London and featured a special appearance by a then 9-year-old Naomi Campbell.
Stay tuned for Episode 5 coming up later this month.