Female football is undoubtedly on the rise in St. Kitts and Nevis, and FIFA Women’s Com-Unity Seminar, held 9-12 August, could not have been timelier. Between the gold medal match of the Olympics and the finals of the LIME Star Brown Women’s League, women’s football was certainly in the spotlight this week.
“FIFA’s President has said the future of football is feminine. We believe the future is now,” said St. Kitts and Nevis Football Association (SKNFA) President Mr. Anthony Johnson in his opening remarks.
The SKNF has stated that 2012 would be the year of development for women’s football, and the FA’s investments in the women’s game have been evident.
“The investment we are making is not just about winning on the field. While yes, that’s important, it’s about winning a career and winning in life. So at the end of the day we will all be better people for it,” said Johnson.
St. Kitts and Nevis entered an U17 National Team for the first time ever into World Cup Qualifying tournament; entered the U20 Caribbean Football Union round of World Cup Qualifiers; launched the LIME Star Brown Women’s Football League this summer; and in November, will kick off their first XI versus XI women’s league, which FIFA is supporting with an equipment donation.
And now, they’ve hosted this 2012 FIFA Women’s Com-Unity Seminar.
“The St. Kitts and Nevis Football Association are delivering on their pledge to develop female football,” said Mr. Howard McIntosh, FIFA Development Officer. “They have worked hard over the past year to field youth national teams, launch a women’s league and develop programming for female footballers.”
Over 50 participants from the football association, community, government, media and professional organizations participated in the three-day seminar. The objectives, according to SKNFA, were to raise awareness and profile of women’s football in the country; generate ideas for the development and progress of female football; build long-term relationships between all the sectors represented and the football community; and reinforce the positive values of football.
The seminar kicked off with a full day dedicated to development of the game, and the SKNFA shared their plans for women’s football on the island. Attendees included the Honorable Marcella Liburd, Minister of Health, Culture and Gender Affairs; Mr. Jeffrey Hazel, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Sports; and Mr. Stanley Knight, the Educational Officer for the Minister of Education.
The second and third days focused on marketing and communications. Representatives from the SKNFA shared their challenges, opportunities and visions for female football in St. Kitts and Nevis, and pledged their commitment to ensuring all girls and women have the same opportunities as boys and men.
FIFA Instructors Andrea Rodebaugh (MEX) and Amanda Vandervort (USA) facilitated working group sessions, and for three full days, the participants were totally engaged and invested in female football.
On the final day of the seminar, SKNFA hosted a Girls Football Festival at Warner Park, where nearly 50 young footballers came out to play. An awards ceremony concluded the event, and each attendee received a Certificate of Participation from the President Johnson and the FIFA delegation.
The SKNFA met with the FIFA delegation on Sunday, 12 August, to present their findings and next steps for the development of female football in St. Kitts and Nevis. Then, together, they attended the LIME Star Brown Women’s League Finals.
“It has been said it takes a village to raise a child. We believe it takes a community to develop our sport,” said Johnson.