SOS for women’s football

The failure of the Lady Jaguars Senior team to qualify for the second round of the CONCACAF Women’s Qualifiers has placed an unwanted but necessary microscope on the programme.

Needing a win in their last fixture to advance, despite having ‘home field’ advantage, Guyana was dumped out for the first time in their history in the opening round of any senior women’s tournament, after battling to a scoreless draw with eventual third place finisher Barbados.

Although the tactics employed by the management staff for the crunch clash under recent recruit, Canadian Dr. Ivan Joseph can be called into question, (that will be scrutinized at a later date), this missive is primarily focused on the women’s local game or the lack thereof.  

It is the worst kept secret that local content is often absent on these important occasions. This is even more apparent in the Women’s Game.

Probably, an SOS (the International Morse Code distress signal used with maritime radio systems) needs to be sent out to rescue this forgotten aspect of the discipline, which has been lost in the ocean of photo opportunities and rhetoric.   

But who is to be blame for the quality or lack thereof of the local players? The answer to the million dollar question is none other than the Guyana Football Federation. They are the architects of our doom.

In the three matches, only six locally based players were utilized, namely; Nathalie Nedd, Collette Hope, Lakeisha Pearson, Tiandi Smith, Annalisa Williams and Sasha James.

Quite frankly none of them are at the current standard required to compete at the CONCACAF level. However, this is far from a slight against the ladies. At the moment, the subject of women’s football being played here is fantasy. There is literally more action and development in the Le Repentir Cemetery.

Yet the local ladies are expected to don the flag and give their best. I guess their finest is good enough for some of us. Giving your utmost without organized programmes and adequate practice is foolhardy.  I hope this wasn’t the belief of the powers that be. ‘Underprepared’ is an understatement to describe the current climate faced by our local lasses.

It is foolish to believe any of the present locals could match the talents, physicality and technical acumen of the overseas-based players, who were nurtured from an early age by qualified coaches in structured programmes all year round and play regularly in competitive events.

Where are we going as a programme when our starting left-back is a locally based individual on the wrong side of her 30s? I guess we have to use what we have. That is development on local shores for you, ladies and gentlemen.

Where are the benefits of the ATC’s and women’s programmes to the overall quality of our players? We guess their importance [and numbers] will be overstated and inflated once again.

Barring injury, the cold hard truth, is that Coach Joseph could have fielded a match-day squad without any locally based players. Maybe next-time he might. That is an indictment of where we stand in Women’s Football locally.

No one is against overseas based or born players (of Guyanese parentage), they add a dimension and overall quality which is required to progress over the proverbial hump, while creating healthy competition within the national setup.

However, their inclusion shouldn’t be automatic because of the nonexistence of domestic structures. Development is a long and arduous process which is very expensive.

Maybe it is simply cheaper to secure the services of ‘foreign nationals’ of Guyanese lineage to represent the Mud-heads, than develop local talent. Just for the record, I hope they are all properly qualified to play, we don’t wish for another ‘name changing episode’.   

Women’s Sports are never viewed in the same light or revered in the identical manner as is, their Male counterparts. In the Caribbean and back-water administration countries like Guyana, the aforementioned is even more apparent.

Simply put, developed nations produce and take care of their athletes. On the other hand, in ‘developing or Third World countries’, the administrators and politicians are taken care of first. The ones who fall by the wayside are obvious.

Analysis of the Women’s game is the shortest subject on the curriculum of the GFF. Like physical education, a topic which is never taken seriously, but often used in the past, as a filler.

What our girls need is an avenue to hone their skills. Not a seat on a bench to become a line-up statistic for the record books.

For too long, political speeches of the Lady Jaguars inspiring a new generation of players have been met with a cold dose of reality, emptiness.

Our girls have been failed by the GFF and the National Association for Women’s Football (NAWF) for too long, because of the lack of opportunities, structure and development programmes.

In the simplest of definitions, Women’s Football requires structure and the same opportunity as the Men’s game to flourish. Sadly, that might never come to fruition, as the sport has been stagnant for too many months throughout our land.

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