As Emancipation Day celebrations swept the Caribbean, so too did the development of women’s football in St. Lucia. That’s when FIFA and the St. Lucia Football Association (SLFA) kicked off the Women’s Football Com-Unity Seminar in Castries.
And although the last two days of what was scheduled as a four-day event will take place later this month due to Tropical Storm Ernesto, there was no doubt that the first two provided great benefit to the women’s game on the mountainous island.
Indeed, FIFA instructors gave coaches, media representatives, government partners and football enthusiasts insight into, among other topics, the potential of women’s football and its impact on social and educational development programmes, as well as ideas for grassroots football development programmes, creating a positive image for women’s football and using the media to promote the sport. At the end of the two days,instructors Andrea Rodebaugh (MEX) and Amanda Vandervort (USA) facilitated workshops for the participants.
“The SLFA pledges its commitment to redeveloping female football and giving it the prominence that it deserves,” said the organisation’s president, Lyndon Cooper. “We will institute measures that place female football at the top of our priorities.”
The SLFA’s main goal, Cooper explained, was to bring key stakeholders of both government and the private sector together with the football community to begin a constructive dialogue about growing the female game.
Attendees at the Com-Unity Seminar included the President of the St. Lucia Manufacturer’s Association, Ms. Paula Calderon; the Minister of Trade, Industry, Consumer Affairs and Commerce, Ms. Emma Hyppolyte; the Executive Director of Sacred Sports Foundation, Ms. Nova Alexander; the Director of Football for Ministry of Youth Development of Sport, Mr. Jim Xavier; and the General Manager of Winners TV, Mr. Cyril Elisee.
Representatives from the SLFA shared their vision for women’s football. Assistant technical director, Gary St. Rose, detailed the SLFA’s extensive Women’s Football Development Plan with the attendees and expressed his commitment to the women’s game in the country, specifically in each of St. Lucia’s ten districts. “We are genuinely committed to developing women’s football in St. Lucia,” said St. Rose.
“The attendees showed remarkable passion and creativity during the working groups. FIFA remains confident in supporting women’s football in St. Lucia,” said Howard McIntosh, a FIFA Development Officer.
FIFA instructors and SLFA representatives will sit down at the end of the seminar to outline ideas which will aid women’s football’s development in St. Lucia. “Many of the ideas and recommendations presented by the working groups will be incorporated into the SLFA plans,” said Cooper. “What we have done is to say, ‘Look, let’s place female football, not on the back burner, but on the front burner, as part of an overall plan.’ Women’s football is going to be given top priority, and this Women’s Football Com-Unity Seminar has reassured me that there is hope.”