In recognition of Women’s Football Month (WFM), the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA Inc), collaborating with the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, put on an exciting display featuring a Girls’ Festival at the Soufriere Mini Stadium on Thursday.
Thirteen secondary school teams participated in the Secondary Schools Football Festival as part of the activities.
The SLFA has adopted the tagline: ‘Let Them Play’ to promote women’s soccer on the island.
Despite Thursday’s inclement weather, the girls had an enjoyable and thrilling ‘field day,’ matching their skills against their peers.
Barring some shortcomings, the camaraderie among the players, technical unit, organizers and fans was exemplary, and all in all, it was a wonderfully entertaining event.
Interestingly, the respective teams identified themselves by ‘international club’ names – such as Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and others to add more flair to the event.
Before charging onto the field to participate in some tough and sometimes ‘fun-friendly’ sporting rivalry, organisers placed the teams into two groups competing in a single round-robin format.
The 10-minute matches involved nine-a-side per team with roll-on and roll-off substitution.
Ultimately, the Saint Lucia Sports Academy (SLSA) emerged as the winner, triumphing over Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School (VFCSS) after the two contenders had topped their respective groups.
SLSA won a hard-fought 1-nil victory for their efforts, playing unbeaten in the competition and becoming the ‘star team’ on the day, displaying good composure, structure, and modes of play to get past their opponents.
The Festival is in its second year, with the Leon Hess Secondary School (LHSS) winning last year’s inaugural Festival championship title.
Commenting on the event, an SLFA representative stated there was “a vast improvement in schools’ participation, but also an increased number of participants from the respective schools. This was coupled with a high quality of skills displayed. Congratulations to everyone!”
SLFA’s Women Football Coordinator, Mary Liz Campbell, declared that the organisers were “really pleased” with the turnout.
“Most Importantly”, she said, the organizers acknowledged the support from the respective school principals, teachers “and the athletes for making this activity a success.”
“We want to ensure that we have more girls involved in football and the SLFA supports girls getting involved in football,” said Campbell.
She appealed to the young women to “join a club and get involved” since “there are lots of opportunities …for them in football”.
Campbell said she was pleased with the team structure and overall technical preparations for the event.
“A few of the secondary schools have national players (in their squads) and I feel this boosted their morale on the field. And the coaching staff did a good job in ensuring that the players adhered to the rules and regulations,” the SLFA official noted.
SLSA Technical Director and Head Coach Dave Albert noted that female involvement in the sport creates an attraction for young aspirants and other fully-fledged players,
“It’s something that the academy will definitely pay attention to when it comes to female sports,” he stated.
“We try to have equity in all that we do. We have both males and females involved as much as possible because the sports that we have at the schools cater for both males and females: cricket, track, and football,” Albert explained.
“We have quite a few good players on the team who can go on to probably represent Saint Lucia and get scholarships to get out there. I feel it’s a good step for the females, especially at the sports academy,” the SLSA head coach asserted.
Albert noted that the SLSA athletes follow a rigid training regime to keep fit and in tune for competitive matches.
“We have a mix with quite a few of the Form Ones that are involved now …and we are making some progress,” said Albert.
“And the experience that we have gained with the national team players around us is a great asset to us,” he added.
At the post-match awards, Festival trophies went to the following schools:
1ST Place – Saint Lucia Sports Academy
2ND Place – Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School
3RD Place – Leon Hess Secondary School
4TH Place – Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School
Headline photo courtesy Dave Pascal.