Development of women’s football

Women’s football has become the flavour of the month for many of our local ‘experts’. The recently concluded CONCACAF Girls Under-17 Football Championships gave an insight into the current state of the women’s game and the realities of the future.

Guyana finished their Group-D campaign winless, losing to Barbados 1-5 and Cuba 0-8 in lopsided contests. While fleeting moments of quality were witnessed from the hosts during the two encounters, the aforesaid score-lines did not truly reflect the huge disparity in the standard of play between the visitors and the hosts.

Development was the term adopted by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) as the objective of the tournament. How does women’s football fit into that spectrum when the talent pool is basically nonexistent? The GFF continues to place the cart before the horse in the interest of political publicity and mileage.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but many from the current crop of under-17 players cannot take Guyana any further. It is not their fault that such a proclamation has to be made but rather it a reflection of their football circumstances. This is not an attack on the courageous ladies who were asked to fight, what turned out to be losing battles, under the guise of representing their nation.

Can there be any real advancement without any form of structure? The girls’ game simply requires the same structures and avenues as the boys, if there is to be any progress and advancement. If the boys’ component is currently in the doldrums, should we expect anything less from the girls’ element which is often relegated to the position of step child?

The messages emanating from the GFF’s daily press releases and briefings do not correlate with the current state of local affairs. Of course, the immediate rebuttal from the defenders will be to look at the bigger picture.

However as one enthusiast uttered recently, “Preparation is key, structure is important and what we don’t have locally for the most part is a combination of both. This is especially apparent for the female game.”

Is the GFF receiving specific funds from CONCACAF, and or FIFA, for the development of ladies football? If so, how much? What are the programes in place for these funds? Which begs the question, how is the GFF accounting to the donor(s) for these funds?

As we are on the questing of funding, how much did the GFF receive for the recent hosting of the CONCACAF Group-D playoffs in the Girls Under-17 Championship? Aren’t the stakeholders – the associations, clubs and  the  general public – entitled to an audited statement from the GFF accounting for the expenditure of these funds?

After all, the GFF is national body, which should be held accountable to the National Sports Commission and the Guyanese public.

Where is the structure for the women’s game to grow? Why weren’t Under-17 leagues commissioned months prior to the start of the continental tournament, which would have given the girls valuable match practice, whilst expanding the talent pool?

Why not create tournaments similar to the NAMILCO Under-17 or Frank Watson Under-15 for the girls? Then again that might be wishful thinking, as the former is yet to resume in every association, and the latter is yet to start despite having been commissioned months ago.

It was revealed that many of the girls selected to the national team emanated from the ATCs (Academy Training Centers). However, one must ask, isn’t the objective of the ATC geared towards developing ‘precocious talents’ in every association?

The ATC, which is an already a very divisive programme due to the partisan nature of the respective administrators, cannot develop players, especially of the female persuasion, many of whom are simply new to the game.

Such an assignment is for the clubs in the respective associations where the players reside. The GFF must, and or, should mandate all registered clubs to have a female arm, then perhaps women’s football may actually develop through daily coaching at the grassroots level.

Ironically wasn’t that a pre-requisite for the Elite League clubs? I think we all know how that materialized! Moreover, this must be done through a long term structured process, no shortcuts, with emphasis on the ‘Cuban Way’.

Comparably, how can the GFF claim to be interested in women’s football, when the ruling body, the National Association for Women’s Football (NAWF), which is expected to lead the charge for development, and equality for the ladies who are often sidelined, is practically a non-functioning organization?

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