The hugely successful women’s football program in the Cayman Islands is widely celebrated in the CONCACAF region, and it looks likely to continue.
The next generation of girls took their chance to get into the sport on Saturday.
The Cayman Islands Football Association hosted its inaugural Girls Grassroots Football Festival at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, and 155 girls, some as young as 3, turned up for the two-hour session. The free one-day event was open to girls up to 12 years old and uniforms were provided by CONCACAF.
Martha Godet, head of CIFA’s women’s program, was pleased with the turnout. “It was a great success and the girls had lots of fun,” she said.
The intention is to have these sessions every quarter, possibly more often if there is enough interest.
The fact that Cayman successfully hosted the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 Girls Championship last year and the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Qualifiers a year ago has resonated around the region.
The girls and women’s teams have played well in international tournaments in recent years, despite Cayman’s tiny pool of eligible players. Godet is intent on seeing that continue.
She said some of the girls are already in the flourishing Maples Grassroot program. The hope is that Saturday’s newcomers will get involved in the Maples program and those run by clubs.
Most of the coaches were youth and senior women players, which Godet said was a good thing. “This is another initiative, so that the seniors are involved with the smaller girls, which hopefully will empower the seniors to stay in the game and become coaches, referees or administrators. Every little area helps to develop girls in women’s football.”
She also hopes the parents will continue their support. “This is where we have to start, from grassroots. Once they have the ball at their feet the technical part will just get better as they grow older. There are the obvious health benefits too, it all comes in one package.”
She added that, apart from other playing programs, there are coaching and officiating courses planned specifically for women this year.