Head of Women's Football Karina LeBlanc taking a selfie with some of the local female players during the launch of the 2018 Women's League this past weekend.
'Be your own hero!' That was the advice given to the local female players by Concacaf Head of Women's Football Karina LeBlanc during the launch of the 2018 Women's League this past Saturday. Delivering the feature address to the five team participating in the competition this year as well as the Under-11 and Under-13 players on-hand for the Girls Grassroots Festival which preceded the start of the league, LeBlanc had nothing but words of encouragement for the young women.
Noting that she started out as a shy kid from Dominica before making the move to Canada, LeBlanc said that she learned early on to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. “The toughest thing I went through was I tried out for the big team, the U-15, and I got cut. I remember I went with all my friends to the try-out and all of a sudden, every dream I wanted to do, someone told me I couldn't do it. But being cut was the best thing that ever happened to me and I'm telling you this because what football does is that it teaches you that failure is okay. You learn to to connect people, you learn to communicate, you learn to set goals, and what you're doing here is more than just a football game, you’re setting yourself up for life.” she said.
With players parading for defending champions University of the West Indies Women's Football Club, Mavericks Women, Kick Start Genesis, Empire Women and National Sports Council Women's Football Team ahead of the two opening games, the UNICEF Ambassador asked that they all put their best foot forward in a bid to inspire themselves and others. “I know this is your first game on this beautiful pitch which makes me want to play football with you, but I want you to know that whatever happens today, whether you win or lose, you're already making yourself a better version of yourself. So I challenge you today to be your own hero. Be your own hero on the field. Be your own hero for the young girls that are here, but also I want you to know that what you learn in this sport sets you up for life.”
Encouraging the ladies to have fun, dream big and work hard, LeBlanc said that the sky was the limit with women's football especially now a at a time when the sport had such a great potential for growth. “I've seen it progress and I think each island is different. But across the board, one of the things we need to do is raise the awareness of why women's football is such a great thing – it's not a cost. Most people see it as a costly distraction. But look at women who have played football do. They go on to be prime ministers, they go on to be CEOs because you learn so much when you're playing that game. Once you cross that line, you learn how to communicate with people. You learn about leadership and setting goals. You learn things that are so valuable in life, that if you just walk through life you never know that you could be that person.” LeBlanc said.
Mavericks Women got off to a good start for this season as they picked up a 4-1 win over Empire Women just after winning the Best Team on Parade during the opening ceremony. Also in winner’s row on the day was Kick Start Genesis who came from behind to edge out the UWI women, three goals to two.