Thirteen enthusiastic secondary school teams turned out at the Soufriere Mini Stadium, on Thursday, to participate in a Secondary Schools Football Festival, as part of the activities in the promotion of Women Football Month.
Under the tagline: Let Them Play – the young ladies had a splendid time matching their skills against their peers – and were undaunted by the persistent rain showers that poured onto the grounds.
Despite some shortcomings, the camaraderie among the players, technical unit and organizers and fans was cordial, and all in all, it was a wonderfully entertaining event.
The event was organized by the Saint Lucia Football Association [SLFA] Inc. in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, and according to a SLFA spokesperson it was quite “successful”.
Interestingly, the teams were identified by international club names – such as Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and others in an effort to add more flair to the event.
Following a dipping process, the teams were placed in two groups and competed in a single round robin format. The 10-minue matches involved nine -a -side per team with roll on and roll off substitution.
Ultimately, the Saint Lucia Sports Academy (SLSA) emerged as the winners as they triumphed over Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School (VFCSS), after the two contenders had topped their respective groups.
SLSA won a hard-fought ( 1-0 ) game for their efforts, playing unbeaten in the competition and were the ‘star team’ of the day, displaying good composure, structure and modes of play to get past their opponents.
At the post match awards, Festival trophies were awarded to the following schools:
1ST Place – SLSA,
2ND Place – VFCSS,
3RD Place – Leon Hess Secondary School (LHSS),
4TH Place – Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School (SCSS).
LHSS won the inaugural Festival championship title last year. This is the second year that the event has been staged.
An SLFA representative stated: “However, this time around, we witnessed not only a vast improvement in schools’ participation, but also an increased number of participants from the respective schools. This was coupled with a high quality of skills displayed. Congratulations to everyone.”
SLFA’s Women Football Coordinator, Mary Liz Campbell told VOICE SPORTS, the organsisers were “really pleased” with the turnout and acknowledged “most importantly” the support from the school principals, teachers “and the athletes for making this activity a success.”
Added Campbell: “We want to ensure that we have more girls involved in football and the SLFA supports girls getting involved in football.
“Every girl can play, and if you are not in a club right now, we are appealing to young ladies to join a club and get involved. There are lots of opportunities …for them in football, and so, we can start from there.”
Speaking to the team structure and overall technical preparations for the event, the SLFA official noted, “A few of the secondary schools have national players (in their squads) and I feel this boosted the players’ morale on the field. And the coaching staff did a good job in ensuring that the players adhered to the rules and regulations.”
Commenting on the female involvement in the sport of football and the attraction that it provides to young aspirants and other fully- fledged players, SLSA Technical Director and Head coach Dave Albert notes: “It’s something that the academy will definitely pay attention to, when it comes to female sports. We try to have equity in all that we do, have both males and females involved as much as possible, because the sports that we have at the schools cater for both males and females; cricket, track and football.
He added, “We have quite a few good players on the team who can go on to probably represent Saint Lucia and get scholarships to get out there. I feel it’s a good step for the females, especially at the sports academy.”
Referring to the SLSA’s team formation and execution during the game, Albert said, “We have a mix with quite a few of the Form Ones that are involved now …and we are making some progress. And the experience that we have gained with the national team players around us is a great asset to us.”