By Neto Baptiste
Technical director for women’s football in Antigua, Lisa Cole, has warned that the country should not expect instant results or success from the ongoing women’s development programme…well at least not for another three to four years.
The US coach and former player made the statement on the heels of the national under-20 women’s team Group C exit from the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship Qualifiers held in Curacao.
“We are making strides. The results aren’t bearing fruits as yet and we are putting a lot of pressure on those two games [in the under-20 qualifiers] if those are the only testing points. We have to realise where we are so it can’t all be about results. It has to be about our players improving, is how we are playing improving and are we able to get on the field and compete against somebody that has a proven record,” she said.
Antigua and Barbuda were beaten 1-0 by hosts Curacao in their opening Group C match before crashing to an 8-0 defeat at the hands of St Lucia.
Cole said that although there has not been a significant improvement in the overall team play just yet, she has seem meaningful development on a number of individual players and their approach to the game.
“I look at it and I see individual players and even though we are not happy with the results of the U-20s, I see better football being played on the team so I see it’s not just kick and running or depending on just one or two individuals to play but I see team play. Did it break down at times? Yeah. Did our mentality break down at times? Yeah, but we only played two games and we had one really good game and we had one game where, to be honest, there were great moments in that game for us,” the coach said.
Cole, who is known for being the former head coach for the Boston Breakers in the US National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), hinted that the work has started with the current under-17 players in hopes that by the time they graduate to the senior level, they will be fully equipped and able to get the job done.
“I think when you have put together a development plan and I would say when these U-17s are seniors, we should start to see results. I have a friend that went to St Kitts, she trained the national team but she has been in and out so she only comes in for that. I didn’t come here to just be in and out. I came here so that it’s consistent and you guys have had good teams but then you drop off and then you have a good generation but then you drop off so the plan here is to get a programme in place where we consistently develop players that play at a higher level. When we consistently develop players that play at a higher level that means our teams can play and compete at a higher level,” she said.
Cole said her programme has been significantly hampered by the Covid-19 virus which has also interrupted the ongoing preparations for the senior women’s team slated to compete in Group A in the CONCACAF leg of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in November.