March 15, 2012
There is this remarkable development in Bahamian sports and it's not getting the kind of attention deserved. I refer to the national under-17 female squad developed by the Bahamas Football Association (BFA).
Our team will hit the big circle of competition for the very first time in May, during the final round of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Championships. A few sponsors have come on board, but while teams from the United States, Canada and Trinidad & Tobago are properly preparing with the benefit of quality camps, it's been a struggle for the BFA to afford our young ladies similar circumstances. There is a common view that the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) financially supports the entire program of the BFA.
This is far from the truth. While FIFA does advance some $200,000 for development purposes to the BFA, it does the very same for all of the national soccer entities,
inclusive of the United States, Great Britain and all the other world gigantic soccer programs.
The developmental task in front of the BFA annually is huge indeed. Therefore it is a great challenge for the BFA to give the under-17 team the preparation outings on par with the USA, Canada, Trinidad & Tobago and host country Guatemala. The CONCACAF final round will begin in Guatemala May 2 and The Bahamas' first opponent is the USA.
How are the ladies from the USA being prepared?
Well, this past weekend, they completed a three-match run against France, England and the Netherlands. On top of being positioned to face such front line players as they prepare for the regional final round, the Americans benefitted by an arrangement that allowed them to match up against older players, 18 and 19.
This will be a decided advantage for them when the hit the field against The Bahamas. In Guatemala, we will play Canada following the USA match.
How are the Canadians preparing?
The Canadian team has had a 10-day camp in Florida and has also played Germany. A camp in Florida has been arranged for the Trinidad & Tobago team as well.
What about our girls?
They've had the one opportunity for a friendly preparation session against St. Stephen's Soccer Academy, an Episcopal School based in Austin, Texas. BFA President Anton Sealey and his colleagues would like to do much more in the way of providing for our girls more competition leading up to the CONCACAF Championship in Guatemala.
This is where Corporate Bahamas can step in. The achievement of the under-17 team is spectacular to say the least. Advancing to the big regional event is a first for The Bahamas. This is a major accomplishment.
The Ministry of Sports and the Sports Tourism Department in the Ministry of Tourism should be leading a massive effort to support our team. Going up against the North American top soccer powers United States and Canada, as well as Mexico, and Caribbean powers Jamaica and Trinidad, and host Guatemala will be tough.
The team needs financial support to better prepare for the challenge ahead. This is a national cause. Hopefully Corporate Bahamas will step up to the plate in a meaningful way.
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com
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