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Qualifiers a learning experience for ‘Sugar Girls’

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 28th November, 2017 – The recently concluded CONCACAF Caribbean Women’s U-20 Qualifiers, played at Warner Park, is an excellent springboard for the Women’s Football Program in St. Kitts-Nevis, said Stanley Jacobs, the General Secretary of the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association (SKNFA).

According to General Secretary Jacobs, the event was also highly successful. “We at the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association are indeed pleased with the overall organisation of the recently concluded CONCACAF Caribbean Women’s U-20 Qualifiers. For us, the event was tremendously successful,” Jacobs said.

With the limited exposure to women’s football in the federation, hosting the qualifiers, Jacobs said, enabled spectators to see the very best of Caribbean women’s football.

“The qualifiers were an opportunity for the general public to see good quality women’s football. I don’t think that we have ever seen this quality of women’s football played in St. Kitts and Nevis. We had three of the top teams in the Caribbean – Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with Haiti and Jamaica being two of the top contenders within CONCACAF,” Jacobs stated.

On the performance of the ‘Sugar Girls’ Jacobs had high commendations for the determination of the players.

The SKNFA General Secretary said, “They played with pride, and they played with a lot of determination. It was really a good feeling from the SKNFA to see these girls play with such determination, even though they were playing teams that have been playing for a much longer time.”

He pointed out that most of the team’s players were very young, some as young as 14 years of age. “it is important to continue their development, as they will form the core of the future national women’s team,” Jacobs said, adding, “It is an extremely young team, and it was a learning experience.”

The SKNFA General Secretary had high praise for the many spectators who turned out at the Warner Park Football Stadium on the three nights of match play, 22nd, 24th and 26th November. “We are pleased with the spectator turn-out. People came out. They supported the girls, even though we were up against teams that were much better than us. The crowd was very supportive. We are grateful and thankful for that,” Jacobs said.

SKNFA Technical Director Lenny Lake believes that hosting the qualifiers will have long term spill off, noting that for the federation, the qualifiers were more about experience than winning. Lake said, “I think for us, as a country, we have to recognise that women’s football is growing and growing fast, but we are new to it, hence, we should be happy to have seen the level of football displayed by women in the region… Learning and gaining experience are what the qualifiers provided the team.” In continuing to build the women’s football program in the federation, the Technical Director said the qualifiers will be used as a benchmark for the young female players. Lake stated, “I am very pleased about what I saw during the tournament. I believe it was strategic for us to go into the tournament to learn, more than to try to advance.” He continued, “I think that we are on the right track. Once we can build on this, in the next couple of years, 2019 – 2021, one will see a different performance for the female team here in St. Kitts and Nevis.

But for Coach Shandor Wilkinson, inadequate preparation was the main impediment to a better performance, citing difficulties in getting players together on a consistent manner. “We had players who would have been preparing for their exams, with many of the players having to attend extra classes, so at one time we will have a group and at another a different group, so it was difficult preparing for this specific tournament,” Wilkinson said. Nevertheless, Coach Wilkinson said the players fought at every step of their games. “I am proud of the girls. The first game they went out and might have had a bit of ‘stage fright’. But they came back the second game and they really did step up to the plate, and they performed,” said Wilkinson. “I am now looking at working with those players. Every aspect of the game will be worked on, including goalkeeping,” the coach informed.

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