April 5 – The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) is championing its Women’s Challenge Series 2018 as a “recommitment to female players” in the region. The competition marks a return to locally organised game play in a forgotten region of world football that has been left emaciated, underfunded and excluded by political power plays at CONCACAF and FIFA level.
That the CFU has created and its members have funded a stage for its women’s game is commendable.
Jeaninne Wong-Loi-Sing, chair of the CFU Women’s Football Committee, said: “The competition will be a showcase for the growth of women’s football in the region and will be used as practice-and-development platform for different stakeholders such as players, coaches, referees and local organising Member Associations.”
Women’s football in the Caribbean has suffered for some time from a lack of competitive play. The last senior women’s competition was the 2014 Caribbean Women’s Cup, won by Trinidad and Tobago, but before then you have to go right back to Haiti winning the inaugural competition in 2000.
“Football in the Caribbean has been a predominantly male-focused event from grassroots to adult. While FIFA has, over the years, encouraged the allocation of 15 per cent of its resources to the development of the women’s game, little attention if any was given to its growth in the CFU. The staging of an annual event of this kind will allow for year-round interest amongst our senior female players and as motivation for the younger players,” said Wong-Loi-Sing.
“The Caribbean is yet to see a senior women’s team reach the FIFA Women’s World Cup and there therefore must be concerted efforts to change the status quo, hence the introduction of the Challenge Series.”
Played in five groups on five different islands, the competition is focussed on participation and while there will be group winners, there will be no final rounds due to financial constraints. A group format contains costs and gets teams playing.
“A main objective is to create opportunities for the players to compete. This will also allow the countries, and the Women’s Football Committee, to compare their level of development, exchange experiences and hopefully learn from each other. After the Challenge Series, the Women’s Football Committee will meet to discuss and define the action plans to help realize the goals and objectives for development as set out in the Strategic Plan of the CFU,” said Wong-Loi-Sing.
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