The St Lucia Football Association [SLFA] Inc. has rolled out an exciting and inclusive list of activities in observation of Women’s Football Month, which is this month.
At a press briefing, this week, SLFA officials outlined an array of events involving both on-field activities, promotion and publicity programmes that will run from mid-November into December.
SLFA president Lyndon Cooper stated that it was an opportune time to regroup and to restructure the women’s football programme on the island.
“This activity is part of the thrust to reposition, redevelop, grow, attract and enhance the women’s programme within the structure of the SLFA,” declared Cooper.
He said over the past years, the SLFA has observed the “slow pace of growth when it comes to the number of women within the sport of football.” As a result, the SLFA went out to do its utmost “to attract more women into the sport.”
Cooper disclosed that post-COVID, FIFA had allocated specific funds and “additional resources” to assist with development of women in the sport. He said these funds were used “to create intervention …and we decided to form a ‘Task Force’ and they were given a specific term of reference. And as a part of this new development, we found ourselves celebrating every single activity as it pertains to women or attempting to be reactive in attracting more activities that could increase the number of women in the sport of football.”
He noted that there has been improvements in certain areas. He highlighted factors such as the recent Referees Course, held at the SLFA base, and “in excess of over 90% of the participants were female”, a notable increase over the last 10 years.
Cooper said the SLFA’s ‘Adopt a School Programme’ also targets females, and a pilot project was created “where we extended the Adopt a School into the community”. He reported that there has been an increase in the number of participants on the island’s eastern zone, “who are now engaged in coaching, First Aid /CPR and refereeing.”
He assured that moving forward, the SLFA will be putting in an increase effort “to the actual playing of females in the sport on the island”.
Hinting at prospects for the future establishment of a Female Football League, on island, Cooper added: “We have managed to successfully place our request to FIFA for the creation of a Female Football League, which will enhance the continued development of the organization that most likely will not be required to fall under the normal regulations when it comes to participation.”
He said soon as the SLFA manages to get this female league “off the ground” this will provide a leeway “to inject much more resources into this activity.”
Chairperson of the Women’s Football Task Force, Ms. Examine Philbert stated that November was “ideally placed” to host the Football Month activities. She said there are several programmes highlighted for this month impacting women, young females and children that could be incorporated into these activities.
Among activities planned for November:, Nov. 23- Presentation to the Uptown Gardens Girls Centre; Nov. 25 -Statements on ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’; Nov. 26 – National Football Festival on Universal Children’s Day- Soufriere Mini Stadium; Dec.3 – National Football Conference; Dec. 10 – National Health Fair – Phillip Marcellin Ground [PMG]; Dec.13 – National Walk – Derek Walcott Square (start); and Dec. 7 – Secondary Schools Program – Seven-a- Side football competition at the Soufriere Mini Stadium.
Ms. Philbert said with the Football Conference to be held under the theme: ‘Let Them Play, Empower Them’ is a highpoint of the activities, where more than 75% of the participants will be females in attendance. Another highlight of the conference will be a presentation from a CONCACAF official on the topic- Creating a Winning Football Culture.
The keynote address will feature Guest Speaker, Dr. Vernetta Lesporis, a former national athlete and current sports administrator to deliver on: Self Esteem, Assertiveness and Anticipatory Thinking.
Speaking on the health care session, Philbert said, the theme again reiterates the slogan: Let Them Play- Creating a Healthier Future. “We want this health fair to focus on holistic health, and we are not only looking at examinations and testing …but to include other areas as it relates to diet and nutrition,” she explained. “We are hoping to sensitize them (young persons) and their parents so that they pay closer attention to what we feed our children and ourselves.”
The issue of mental health will also be addressed, and areas dealing with health and safety will be on focus at separate booths set up for the session. Philbert added: “We are hoping that this will be a health fair with a difference.”