Barbados’ ace striker Mario Harte is now national coach of the under-20 women’s team that departed the island today to compete in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Championship in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The CONCACAF Under-20 women’s championship kicks off on July 13 and runs to the 21 and Harte is confident that Barbados will play well in group B with hosts St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Group A includes Bermuda, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Suriname, St Lucia.
A total of ten teams divided into groups of five are expected to compete in the CONCACAF championship which is also a qualifier for the women’s World Cup. The teams will compete in a round robin format, and the top two teams will advance to the knockout stage.
A former senior national captain, Harte was pleased with the level of interest shown by the players whom he described as enthusiastic and believed should do well in the championship.
“I don’t know much about the teams, especially under-20s, but I do know that St. Vincent just won the WIFA tournament [Windward Islands Football Association] a couple of weeks ago. So, I believe that they will have some of the players from that under-20 unit in the team, so I will be aware of that. At the same time, I believe in the talent we have. We have some talented girls here, and we have like six that play at the senior level. So I believe that we could do the job,” Harte said.
“The girls have been coming out, the interest is there, the girls are enthusiastic and show me respect, so we are good coming into the tournament,” Harte explained.
He added: “Preparation has been going well, the girls were coming out, we trained twice, and we were working on the technical side, the when where and how. As you know Barbados have a lot of talented players but the other side of the game, knowing how to exploit the opponent, we seem to fall short. So, I focused on the girls gelling together and having a patterned style of play that could be clear.”
A qualified CONCACAF C licence coach, Harte has had plenty of success with the University of the West Indies Blackbirds women’s team who are the reigning women’s league champions.
First time coaching at the national level, the 30-year-old Harte explained that coaching women was not a preference, but rather opportunities came up at both UWI and the Barbados Football Association to coach women’s football, and he took it.
“I wouldn’t say it is a preference, but because there is a slot open at UWI for women, so I started there and developed by winning championships and because of that Ahmed [Mohammed] the [BFA] technical director contacted me about coaching the under-20s because there was an opening.
“I plan to be around and work with the national teams in whatever area asked of me because as you know, I love football, I love coaching, I love playing and I love working with the youth. Football is what I love, and I would love to spend the rest of my life doing what I love in whatever aspect whether it be coaching or whatever aspect,” Harte said.
The full team: coach Mario Harte, medic Johann Lashley, strikers Acacia Small and Felicia Jarvis, midfielders are Olianna Bishop, Nashandi Clarke, Zara Owen, Marissa King, Tiana Bynoe, Ryanna Thomas and Rowland Kirton- Browne while the defenders are Hope Colucci, Aaliyah Boyce, Jada Rowe, Shaunte Carrington, Tia Briggs- Thompson, Keinelle Johnson, Tanija Maughn and Tia Thorne.