Sunset Football Club’s women’s team dominates the female game locally, and they need not worry about whether the next generation will maintain their grip on trophies because girls barely out of their nappies are being groomed for the future.
Last month Sunset started their girls program every Saturday morning at the Cayman International School field for kids between 4 and 12, and around 100 regularly attend. It costs $100 to attend until June and includes a uniform supplied by sponsor KPMG.
The program is the initiative of Gisela “GG” Gamba, the just-retired Sunset player who now focuses her football passion solely on coaching because injuries blighted her career toward the end.
“These sessions are basically to develop skills, technique, social skills, nurture their love for the game and having fun,” Gamba said. “We split up into groups and teach different skills, and every week we do something different.”
There are around 25 volunteer coaches and only four are men. All the female coaches are youth or senior players, mostly with Sunset.
Growing up in football-mad Argentina, Gamba always wanted to play, but in its macho environment, she had little opportunity. But her love of the game overcame obstacles and she became an accomplished, tenacious striker, scoring at vital times. She was Sunset’s captain for a while too.
Football opportunities for girls in Cayman have improved considerably in the past decade, but there is still a huge gulf from the boys. Gamba is helping close that gap with this program, which she has wanted to do for years.
“Now I’ve retired from playing, I can dedicate myself to more coaching,” the mum of two small kids said. “Definitely, we want them to stay with Sunset but ultimately we want them to be in the girls program to be in the national team.”
She hopes that other clubs will imitate with their own programs.
The girls and parents are “super-excited,” Gamba said. “They say they have been waiting for this for a long time. Some already play with boys, but others don’t want to do that. This is a better environment for them.”
Gamba is on the local football association’s women’s committee, headed by Martha Godet. Two weeks ago, the Grassroots Festival for girls football, which Gamba was involved in, kicked off at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The next one is at least a couple of months away, unlike Gamba’s weekly sessions.
She is pleased the girls are generally getting a chance in football here, and the senior sides enjoy playing more visiting teams.
A women’s university side from Connecticut will be over next month for games against Cayman’s national team. The University of New Haven competes in the North East 10 NCAA Division 2. The matches are on March 15 and 18 at Truman Bodden.
Gamba is helping prepare them and is excited that Cayman’s best may get opportunities for scholarships. “The Americans are very interested in Caribbean players,” she said.
A teacher at the Cayman International School, Gamba is immersed in sport. She is also a superb field hockey player. Her ambition is to one day be a full-time football coach, she loves it so much.
Hopefully, a budding kid with the talent of Lionel Messi will emerge and Gamba will have the satisfaction of helping him or her on their journey.