Following the successful staging of week one of the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc Under 11, Under 13 and Under 17 Youth Championship, the SLFA wheels are in motion for the staging of the senior women’s tournament in September, that’s the word coming from the SLFA President, Lyndon Cooper.
Cooper at the time was addressing members of the media during the press launch for the Boys Club Championship. He said, “In terms of the female tournament, we have dismantled the age, in the last four years we tried to focus on the development team in order for us to manage our continue participation/competition in senior female football internationally”.
According to the SLFA Boss, “A female can now play in a senior competition at whatever age she chooses (be it 2 year old/ 55 year old) once the player is registered within the FIFA Connect System (FCS)”.
He continued, “In making those adjustments we had to reconsider our future participation in both regional and international football when it comes to female competition”.
The SLFA Boss said, “In 2019, we indicated that no longer will Saint Lucia focus its attentions on the selection of national players for international engagements within the confines of the 238 sq miles”.
“We believe we were ready to dismantle those barriers, the platform or opportunity and the number of players that’s available within our reach; we then thought the time was now to remove those age barriers”. he noted.
Cooper said, “The SLFA has also committed itself to launch the Interdistrict competition; in 2019 we indicated that we will be changing the format. From September 2020, the competition is going to be played in two divisions, a Premier Division and a First Division”.
According to Cooper, “The intention behind this new method we agreed in June of 2019 was that we need to begin to take a serious look at professionalizing both the administration of the sport and playing of the game”.
In terms of the Mini Professional League (MPL), He said, “The Government of Saint Lucia, by extension, the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports and the SLFA agreed that 2020 was the commencement to launch what would then be called a Mini Professional League. We did not use the word semiprofessional. The compensation that was down in relationship to the competition would have been compensated as a refund for expenses for players, coaches and managers would have engaged in”.
Cooper said, “The intention then was within 3-4 years Saint Lucia would have been in a better position to launch a semi-professional league”.
“The other side of 2020 as you are aware, Covid -19 created the doubts and the misgiving in launching the mini professional league,” he added.
Cooper said, “What we have agreed with the government/ Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, the SLFA will proceed with the same principle and format as a trial run in preparing ourselves to launch if all works well for the 2021 season Mini Pro League”.
He added, “The government has committed itself through the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports a total sum for 2020. The proposed budget at the time to launch the Mini Pro League was just below $1 million dollars; the SLFA had committed to putting in excess of $300,000.00 and the Government would match this amount and in the process jointly approach the private sector and non-governmental organization to raise the additional $500,000.00”.
“Once we commence the district competition in September you will see a new format with the aim as a trial run to ensure that we manage, once 2021 come the launch of the mini pro league,” Cooper said.
According to Cooper, “the SLFA want to begin the process with you (the media) to sell the inter-district competition so everybody shows an appreciation to what the SLFA wants to do 1 year in advance”.
Also taking place in September will be the launch of the Under 13 girl’s district competition in a format to be determined by the SLFA Technical Team. The SLFA have chosen the Under 13 as Saint Lucia first engagement for either boys or girls starts at the age of 14. Our preparation would definitely begin at least at the age of 13.