By Neto Baptiste
Football clubs must play a significant role in the development of female football in Antigua but must first understand that the task is not solely that of the national association.
This is according to Vice President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) and head of the organisation’s Competitions Committee, Gwen Salmon, who said she is not satisfied with the strides made by women’s football in the twin-island state.
“I think individuals view the [development] of female football as solely the role of the association, and it is not the role of the association. I’ve been to many workshops with FIFA and CONCACAF around the region and they always teach us that the development comes from the clubs, so I am not satisfied because I think our clubs need to play a more significant role in the development of women’s football,” she said.
Salmon, who is also president of the Hoppers Football Club, said most clubs are of the opinion that they must field a women’s team in the FA’s competition but clarified that such is not the case.
“They [FIFA and CONCACAF] don’t say that you must have a team to play in the league, but let’s say you get five players and we have 62 registered clubs. If they take up the task to say they are developing five or four players, when it’s time for national training or the call up for national training then we as administrators should not have an issue that when the girls come there you are now teaching them to kick a ball. When they come to us they should be elite players coming from the clubs,” the VP said.
“I think that’s a dialogue the ABFA needs to have with the clubs, if it is that it’s funding they need to make this happen but that is how I see it,” Salmon added.
Salmon, however, expressed satisfaction in seeing the revival of the ABFA’s women’s league this year which saw a number of teams competing against each other for the first time in years.
The VP added that they failed to capitalise on what she thought was a boom in female football some years ago.
“During the years 2014 through 2017, we had about 300 young girls training for football on Saturday morning at the ARG and those players turned out to be the top players that were in our football league and I saw them shine in the last football league we had,” she said.
“I should have done more to highlight what the girls were doing and to show where the girls came from and to show their dedication and hard work in the sport; I believe that we, myself and the association, could have done more, and so that’s one of my regrets,” she added.
The ABFA’s Women’s Invitational League was cut short in March after the government stopped all sporting activities following the announcement that the country had recorded its first case of the coronavirus. At that time, Cutting Edge and Ottos Tigers were both on 12 points with Cutting Edge holding a slight advantage at the top, based on goal difference. Lady Hoppers are third with 10 points while Trendsetters (six points), Fort Road (five points), Wadadli United (four points) and Lady Grenades (one point) were fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.