CONCACAF program boosts women’s game in Antigua

(ABOVE) CONCACAF is a conducting coaching course and a girls' football competition in Antigua & Barbuda from April 9-12, 2015.

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua & Barbuda -- CONCACAF instructor Heather Dyche believes that holding the first-ever CONCACAF Girls’ 7v7 Football Tournament at the Antigua Recreation Grounds in Antigua & Barbuda will serve to lift the women’s game in the Caribbean nation.

As part of a four-day initiative, the Confederation is conducting a coaching course on Thursday and Friday, before holding a competition throughout the weekend.  It’s all part of an effort to increase awareness of the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) strategy of building a sustainable women’s program.

“What we want to do is help grow four separate things,” said Dyche.  “One is their technical ability on how to run sessions, plan sessions and to build a team.  The second part is the tactical aspect, so we will look at formations, understanding the game, in-game coaching.  The other two pieces are the psychological and physical part of coaching females that tend to be a little different from coaching males, so we just help to identify those and then really hope that we help the candidates to leave better coaches.”

Gwen Salmon, coordinator of ABFA women’s football, is confident that the project will serve to improve coaches and players.

“It’s going to help us to expand our grassroots program that we have on Saturday mornings, so this is going to be beneficial to the women’s department of the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association,” she said.  “I am excited and I am just looking forward to the games on the weekend.”

Meanwhile, ABFA President Everton Gonsalves believes that the first installment of the CONCACAF tournament will serve to encourage more girls and women to get involved with football.

“I want to express, from the onset, my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to CONCACAF for ensuring Antigua is granted this pilot project,” Gonsalves expressed.  “As you know, our mandate is all about the development of football in general, but female football holds a special place in our hearts and we want to ensure that Antigua is keeping pace with the rest of our colleagues throughout the region and internationally in terms of female football development.”

Sixteen teams from schools across Antigua & Barbuda and 10 clubs from the ABFA membership are slated to compete in the event’s open-age category.

Also attending the tournament will be heads of women’s programs from the Leeward Islands’ member associations, including Montserrat, Anguilla, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Maarten.