Sports

Concacaf, CFU chiefs agree fairy tale achievement lights way for women's game

Sunday, November 18, 2018

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Concacaf President Victor Montagliani says the success of Jamaica's women footballers could be the catalyst for a revolution of the feminine game.

“Their qualification is a real statement of the potential, and I think we owe it from a society standpoint to ensure that everybody has an opportunity at every age, and both genders as well, [to grow].

“I think this is the beginning of something special, not only in Jamaica, but in region and the confederation,” Montagliani told the Jamaica Observer recently.

The Canadian said while Jamaica's historic qualification to the Fifa Women's World Cup in France next year should be celebrated and embraced, the achievement must be put into context for its value to drive greater development and to create further opportunities for young women.

“Girls getting to the World Cup is great but we also have to build beneath that and that is why the NextPlay programme is so important — targeting the grass roots, the accessibility. And from there you push that up for more opportunity for girls to go to college or to play in the pro leagues in the US, or those over in Europe,” said Montagliani.

“For example, the Panama goalkeeper (Yenith Bailey) had the US colleges all over her,but unfortunately, she does not speak English. But there will be many more opportunities like that,” he added.

Montagliani, two and half years as Concacaf president, said the confederation is proud of the sensational efforts of Jamaica and Panama in the recent qualifiers.

“We have had two countries, one from the Caribbean and the other from central America in Panama who have never gone anywhere (qualified for a World Cup). But I must say the Reggae Girlz were majestic that night, coming back in extra time. And when you saw the joy on their faces, that told the story,” he noted.

Panama, who Jamaica defeated 4-2 on penalties in the third-place play-off game of the Concacaf Women's Championship last month to advance, failed in their bid to advance to the World Cup after losing 1-5 on aggregate to Argentina in an intercontinental tie.

The USA and Canada are the other Concacaf nations through to France 2019.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Randolph Harris said the success for Jamaica is shared by all in the Caribbean.

“I must say that the entire Caribbean must honour these ladies from Jamaica as they have done themselves, the region, and Concacaf proud… we are now looking forward to them competing in France and I believe that they will make a great go of it, and I am really looking forward to that,” he said.

The Barbadian Harris noted that the achievement of getting a Caribbean team to the senior women's World Cup is remarkable for more reasons than one.

“When I realised that they had qualified I really jumped and behaved badly, because I think it is such a glorious thing that has happened in a relatively short space of time — considering how recent we started taking women's football seriously,” he noted.

– Sean Williams

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