The hosting of the CONCACAF Caribbean Women’s U-20 Qualifiers in St. Kitts and Nevis offers the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association (SKNFA) an important occasion to raise awareness of Women’s Football in the federation, said Stanley Jacobs, General Secretary of the SKNFA.
Although the federation’s women’s football program is relatively in its infancy, the qualifiers present an opportunity for the girls to play against top Caribbean women footballers. It is also the hope that these games will inspire girls to take up the sport of football, the General Secretary said.
Commenting on the benefits for the National U-20 Women’s Football Team, Jacobs said, “For our young girls who will be participating, it is an opportunity for them to play against the best women footballers of their age group within the region. It is important for them to match their skills against the top Caribbean women footballers.”
These qualifiers provide an occasion for the team to gain much needed competitive experience, as in 2018, the senior women’s team will move into action, Jacobs explained.
The qualifiers will be held at Warner Park on the 22nd, 24th and 26th November, with double headers on each match day, starting at 5 pm and 7:30 pm.
“It is an opportunity for persons to come out and support our young teenage girls. Fans can expect to be entertained,” Jacobs said.
SKNFA Technical Director Lenny Lake confirms that the local women’s football program needs to gain as much through awareness of the sport among young women, but the immediate goal is to qualify.
Lake said, “The team will be doing its best to qualify. If we are one of the teams that qualify for the next level, then we will be happy. If we do not qualify, we will continue our development process.”
He continued, “While we are competing, we want to make sure we achieve our objectives to be competitive, and at the same time, to encourage more girls to come forward and try the sport of football.”
Meanwhile, Coach Shando Wilkinson has been hard at work preparing the team for their encounters against teams from Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Coach Wilkinson said, “I believe the team will do its best to compete against these teams that have been in the system for a long time. We are getting the best from the Caribbean. We just have to go out and showcase our talent in a competitive way.”
Wilkinson believes that having such a tournament in St. Kitts will “give a lift to women’s football”.
The teams from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis will compete for two spots in the finals, slated to take place in Trinidad & Tobago.
Two groups have already been determined for the finals in Trinidad.
The groups were determined during a 7th November draw in Miami, for the 18th January, 2018 Championship slated for Couva, Trinidad.
Group A comprises teams from Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica, Canada and a Caribbean Team.
Group B comprises teams from United States, Nicaragua, Mexico and a Caribbean Team.
According to CONCACAF, the Ato Boldon Stadium, in Couva, Trinidad, will host all sixteen matches, to be played across eight match days in January. The tournament will qualify three teams directly to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018.
In the previous edition of the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship played in Honduras in 2015, the United States won its fourth straight championship at this level, with a 1-0 win over Canada in the final.