THE Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) is now in day two of its CONCACAF Grassroots Programme targeted at further developing female football on the island.
A number of football coaches and enthusiasts from the association’s 19 affiliates are undergoing training to better equip them with the specific tools needed to deal with young ladies desirous of developing their football skills.
The three-day course will include participants being introduced to the programme philosophy and objectives, role of coach/educator, age appropriate training objectives and methodology, principles of coaching, and training.
On the practical side of things, they will be engaged in technical training, passing, receiving, dribbling and finishing. Tactical training also principles of attacking/defending.
The course will end on Sunday morning with a Grassroots Festival at the Sab Sports Facility.
The event, which got underway at SLFA’s headquarters in La Clery on Friday morning, featured SLFA president, Lyndon Cooper, who shared his association’s vision for women’s football.
“This year has been one of my biggest challenges in trying to convince persons (about) the direction for the sport for the last six years,” he said. “It’s the right course of action. We have taken a second look at where we were and where we wanted to go. Today, it’s not isolation in the entire developmental plan. We have actually physically, and through policy, handpicked each individual as part of a vision to take us where we want to go in terms of female football in the next four years.”
He asked the participants to pledge their commitment to the developmental plan for football.
Cooper continued, “In August 2018, the SLFA is expected to be part of a 40-nation Under-15 girls’ tournament. We have already committed ourselves for the next four years, every August, to participate. We need to begin to compete from the Under-15 level and we can only do an evaluation in August of every year.
“As coach/educators, we see you as a first point of contact for every single child who plays football in Saint Lucia. The players you have under your watch, you must show the appreciation and the long-term plan of the SLFA. The plan for us is to ensure whatsoever you are taught over the next few days you will be charged with the responsibility by the end of this year to assist us. The plan now is to get the children ready for August 2018. We are no longer going to allow the resources of the SLFA to be spent without engaging every single person who wants to be involved in this beautiful game.”
Cooper said that in the coming year, the SLFA will initiate a national Under-13 competition which would allow the SLFA to begin preparation for the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
CONCACAF facilitator, Stephanie Gabbert from Denver, Colorado, who is part of CONCACAF’s instructional staff, said she is excited to be here and to be hosted by the SLFA.
She said, “Basically, I am here to provide this course to the various coaches to help grow the game in Saint Lucia and get more kids playing and, hopefully, strengthen the programme from top to bottom.
“The three-day course will show the participants how to work with kids, provide a good structured environment for them and some technical and tactical information.”
With at least 10 women participating in the programme, Gabbert said, “It’s great for young girls; it is always great for them to see women coaching them and know they can strive for that, too. But also just have a different role model to emulate.”