March 08, 2021
On Saturday, March 6th the Grand Bahama Soccer Club, formally the Grand Bahama Girls Developmental Soccer League, celebrated International Women’s Day at the YMCA Playing field. The International Day hashtag #ChooseToChallenge was evident from the field décor. GBSC’s Events Organizer, former player and volunteer coach, Ashleigh Lockhart, had pictures of former players/coaches currently in male dominated jobs or in college taking male dominated courses such as Aviation and Construction Project Management . Two of the women who have long graduated and are now working at the Grand Bahama Power Company were present. Both women are still involved in the program. Nikita Mullings, a former player and coach is presently COO of GB Power Company and will be returning to the role of coach now that both daughters are old enough to play soccer. Symone Stubbs, an electrical engineer in the same company, is an executive director in the club and the Head Coach of the Girls’ Academy. Being a recipient of a soccer/ academic scholarship while in the program, has made her very passionate about paying it forward by securing scholarship money for the dedicated and talented players to fulfill their dreams of going to college. Since returning home four years ago, Symone is making a huge impact in that area. The biggest scholarship recipient in the Club’s history is Gabrielle Simms who signed on National Signing Day to go to Kansas City, a Division One school on a full scholarship ($40,000 a year). She has been playing in the program since she was six years old.
Longtime sponsor Yolandear Rolle of Mulligan Meats was present and was highlighted as a woman who is manager of three stores with her two girls in the program. The Grand Bahama Soccer Club has not asked their sponsors for sponsorship money since Hurricane Dorian because of the state of the economy but longtime cooperative team sponsors are Sanitation Services, FOCOL, Polymers, Pelican Bay Hotel, Subway, Municipal Motors, Barefoot Marketing, Sawyers, BWA, JS Johnson, GB Anaesthia, Parris Whittaker & Co, Mulligan Meats and Brad’s Car Rental.
The program at its best before Hurricane Matthew had 350 girls enrolled but has struggled with getting the numbers above 200 which includes the Women’s Champion’s League since 2017. President of the Club , Mary Woodside- Knowles, said soccer families have left the island and many people are still struggling with transportation since Hurricane Dorian. She also stated they are not discouraged with the decrease in numbers and is confident that once this pandemic is over, their numbers will increase.
Donnie Knowles, club vice president, has strategized a plan with Syngad Services to make a set of goals for all the Primary schools on the island at a reduced cost so soccer can become part of the playground culture and more kids will fall in love with the game. There will be a stipulation in place that twice a week only girls can play soccer on the playground, twice a week just boys and Friday will be co-ed.
Grand Bahama Girls’ Soccer is a sisterhood of old and young , which officially became a club 22 years ago , but unofficially started to form five years before that in the youth members of the Town and Country Predators who played in the Grand Bahama Football League. Girls’ Soccer has definitely made an impact in the lives of many females on the island. Many of the former players have their daughters in the program now and so the members of that household will carry on the tradition of the chant “Girls Soccer Rules! “
The Grand Bahama Soccer Club was fortunate to have the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture Iram Lewis and his wife Heather attend their celebration on Saturday and he got an earful as the girls chanted “We need a field!” .