The possibility of a school league for primary school girls should become a reality in the not too distant future, says Nicole McKenzie, chairperson of the Barbados Football Association’s Women’s Committee.
Speaking during the first-ever Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football [CONCACAF] W [women] initiative held last month at the Barbados Football Association in Wildey for close to 140 primary school girls, McKenzie explained that there was a push to get more young ladies playing the sport locally.
“We see girls coming out to play football in Barbados around age fifteen, sixteen, so we are trying to get the young girls involved. There are girls interested in playing football, but they don’t get the opportunity because girls don’t really play football in Barbados in primary schools. The intention is to get a league in the primary schools so that how the boys have BICO [football tournament], the girls can have their own league to play and compete against one another,” McKenzie said.
Sports and Event Management assistant at the BFA Khadijah Mars who was the local coordinator for the CONCACAF W and is also part of the BFA’s women’s committee along with McKenzie, said she believed with the support of corporate Barbados the girls league could be possible.
In fact, it is not just McKenzie and Mars who have a strong desire to see the league for girls come to fruition but also former national player Ytannia Wiggins who was present during the CONCACAF W initiative.
Wiggins, who wears the hats of a Barbados Olympic Association Director and Chairperson for Women In Sports Commission told Barbados TODAY she was happy to see the development where for the first time such large numbers of primary school girls came together for football.
Considering where football was when she played and the progress the sport has made locally over the years, the former top striker said people involved in the sport needed to get over the constant cry about lack of funding. She noted that the time had come for the country to appreciate the interest shown by females to play football.
“As a footballer coming through the days when I was the only girl on a football field and then raising footballers like Soraya Toppin- Herbert who was then the only girl on her primary school team, now to see football at such a point where you can have a primary school league of little girls playing because the secondary school league is good. I know the football association now has the under-fourteen, under-seventeen, under-twenty and the seniors. So to see the development and the pathway to create the pipeline, because this is what it is, this junior tournament for primary school kids is the pipeline for you to develop throughout football. And definitely, someday I see evolving out of this professional contracts for female footballers.
“It is moving but it is moving slow, but yes, slow is still a pace. Given the talent that we have in Barbados and given the educational expertise, you have it, but the constant cry is always funding. We need to get over that mindset and recognise the value of girls participating in sports,” Wiggins said.
According to Wiggins, every two years the Women In Sports Commission puts on a programme called Play Like A Girl for a group of junior female athletes and works with them.
“Yes it is about sports itself but it goes beyond that, it goes to the friendship, building self-confidence, values, building leaders. It is a known fact that girls who participate in sport have higher self-esteem, better body confidence, image, and have a higher chance of staying in school and graduating.
“So, it is from that perspective that things like these are important. Where else are you going to meet somebody new that is not in your community? Where else can you work as a team? Communicate, have the discipline to play with somebody from a different cultural background or religious background. Sports gives you that and CONCACAF W really nailed it today with the festival they had,” she said. [email protected]