Head coach of the Guyana U17 girls team Akeila Castello, said yesterday that the expectation was for the team to be very competitive when they face off with Barbados today in CONCACAF U17 Qualifying Championships at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora.
The local side will commence their group-D campaign at 17:00hrs, in what will be the first fixture for the U17 female side in over three years.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday at the Princess Ramada Hotel, Providence, Castello said:“It was a wonderful experience working with these girls for over a couple of weeks. They would have had to face a number of challenges going forward but they really showed great desire to learn what was being imparted. They did a lot of technical and tactical work over the period, they are now at a point where they are ready to compete, we are expecting a victory from them regardless the end result of the game.”
Guyana’s previous outing in the event occurred in 2013. It was a forgettable performance by the Guyanese as they lost all three matches, conceding 40 goals in the process while failing to find the back of the net.
However Castello declared:“We know for sure they will compete. The only thing needed from the girls is the support from the general public and we are asking that come the 9th [Today] and the 13th against Barbados and Cuba respectively, that we have the full support from the public and really go forward with their game.”
Asked about the importance of the team playing well, Castello revealed, “The girls have worked so hard, they have moved from point A to point Z, they gave us their all over the time, they would have learnt, most of them would have faced the challenge of learning to play in a certain shape, position, a lot of technical work they would’ve taken in the short space of time so that was one of the challenges.
“Training two times a day, for two hours while in camp, that was also a challenge for some of them since it was the first time they would have been in a camp situation but they would have responded so well that we are expecting a great fight coming out of them on game day.”
Quizzed if she is happy with the composition of the team, the soft spoken Castello said:“We are very pleased to be honest because most of the girls came through the ATC so they would have been exposed to certain level of training before they made it to the national camp so we are very pleased with what we have to work with.” United States of America based Goalkeeping Coach Hope Clarke added, “Just the growth in the women’s programme since I was here in 2011 is just remarkably different so I am excited about the path we are going. It’s similar to a model that we use in the USA and I know other countries are using it. I also work in the US with their National Training Centers, it’s a very similar model and it is one that is successfully used so I am excited about that growth.”
She added, “I will the say the calibre of women that we have in this camp versus what I experienced in 2011 is night and day. So I am excited, the young women that we have here in camp are hungry, excited about the opportunity and really absorbing the information so I am excited to see them implement as much as possible against Barbados.”
Meanwhile, Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Technical Director Ian Greenwood said, “We are very excited about the upcoming tournament more from a developmental point of view. Over the last couple of months, we have been re-launching the women’s programme in Guyana and this has been done through the Academy Training Centre (ATC) programme. We know at the moment we have a long way to go with our female programme in terms of where our players should be. It’s very obvious we’re about 20 years behind where we should be from where our players are now at the moment. This is going to be established over the next few years through the Academy training programme.”
He added:“We want to stress this is a developmental purpose, a lot of the girls in this squad will qualify for the U15’s next year which is the first time Guyana will ever have a female U15 team so we want to stress to the public it’s a long-term vision we are looking to do with these players. Everyone should look to the future with this group, five, six years down the line as we look to produce more local players in the Lady Jags squad.”
The team which features Canada based forward Nailah Rowe (FC Durham) consists of, Goalkeepers Indera Amardeo (Kuru-Kuru), Vicky Jonannis (Orealla FC) and Ludesha Reynolds (GFC), Defenders Odessa Smith (Kwakwani Strikers), Lendey Adolph (Kwakwani Strikers), Noami Aaron (Orealla FC), Veyansa Hope (Kuru-Kuru), Tameka Atkinson (Tabatinga FC) and Althea Austin (Fruta Conquerors), Midfielders Alisha Adams (Fruta Conquerors), Ashana Williams (Kwakwani Strikers), Latesha Sutherland (Fruta Conquerors), Tiandi Smith (Foxy Ladies), Siacy Adams (Foxy Ladies), Shontel Greene (Foxy Ladies) and Amanda McKenzie (Fruta Conquerors), Forwards Jalade Trim (Kwakwani Strikers), Sasha Rodrigues (Gladiators FC) and Shirin James (Tabatinga FC).
The assistant coach of the team is Tricia Munroe. The Guyanese conclude their campaign against Cuba on Sunday at the same venue.