Barbados’ football has something to boast about after being the chosen venue for the first-ever NextPlay event, powered by Concacaf W.
The occasion, which attracted 200 girls from 11 primary schools took part in the event at the Barbados Football Association’s Wildey Turf held earlier today.
Participants hailed from Eden Lodge Primary, Elliott Belgrave, Wilkie Cumberbatch, St Silas, St Mark’s Grazettes, Vauxhall, Gordon Walters, St Ambrose, Hindsbury and All Saints, and engaged in activities geared towards the girls seeing that what had been collectively considered a “boys’ sport” could be fun, as well as helping them change how they saw themselves in relation to the game.
The program is being led by Head of Concacaf Women’s Football Karina LeBlanc. Also addressing the girls was FIFA and Concacaf Council Member and President of the Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association Sonia Fulford-Missick, while FIFA’s Regional Office Development Manager Marlon Glean lent support.
LeBlanc, a former goalkeeper with the Canadian national team said they needed a country where they knew Women’s Football was taken seriously and so Barbados was chosen.
“We hope that all these girls fall in love with football and they have fun. I think in this day and age where young girls are trying to figure out who they are, football is a great tool for that. I was a shy kid from Dominica, kicked a football and my life changed. So we’re hoping that today, through this exercise, we can have an impact on these girls to start to believe in themselves,” she said, as she joined the girls on the Turf and encouraged them to “just be”.
Describing the event as “phenomenal”, Fulford- Missick said although the event seemed “basic”, it had the potential to open more avenues.
“We’ve faced a lot of challenges trying to promote the women’s game for one reason or another, whether it’s cultural barriers, numbers or support. An event like this, even though it seems very basic to the eye, Tuesday morning, before 10 o’clock, we have almost 200 girls here ready to play football and I think that’s phenomenal,” she said.