ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Female footballers from the Caribbean region will be in action this month, April, in the Caribbean Football Union Women’s Challenge Series 2018. The competition, which will be played in five groups, addresses a dearth of competitive play and is only the third CFU contest targeting women in the union’s recent history. The last competition was the 2014 Caribbean Women’s Cup, which was won by Trinidad and Tobago. Haiti won the inaugural competition in 2000.
Jeaninne Wong-Loi-Sing is the Chairperson of the CFU Women’s Football Committee and weighed in on the importance of the upcoming group contests.
Why is the CFU Women's Challenge Series 2018 important to female players in the region?
JWLS: The competition will be a showcase for the growth of women’s football in the region and will be used as practice-and-development platform for different stakeholders such as players, coaches, referees and local organizing Member Associations.
Football in the Caribbean has been a predominantly male-focused event from grassroots to adult. While FIFA has, over the years, encouraged the allocation of 15 per cent of its resources to the development of the women’s game, little attention if any was given to its growth in the CFU. The staging of an annual event of this kind will allow for year-round interest amongst our senior female players and as motivation for the younger players.
The Caribbean is yet to see a senior women’s team reach the FIFA Women’s World Cup and there therefore must be concerted efforts to change the status quo, hence the introduction of the Challenge Series.
People may wonder why a group format instead of a Caribbean Cup. How would you explain this?
JWLS: Women’s football in the Caribbean, as well as worldwide, does not yet benefit from substantial financial allocation. Hence, a group format is the most efficient and cost-effective way to organize the events.
Given the current stage and limited resources, we believe that by playing in the current format, we will achieve a few objectives. Amongst them are a guarantee of participation, assurance of future matches within proximity and realistic budgets for Member Associations to guarantee women’s football development.
What are the primary objectives of the Women's Football Committee insofar as an increase in competitions is concerned?
JWLS: A main objective is to create opportunities for the players to compete. This will also allow the countries, and the Women’s Football Committee, to compare their level of development, exchange experiences and hopefully learn from each other.
The upcoming series will also be serve as preparation for CONCACAF and FIFA tournaments.
What next after the Challenge Series for the women footballers of the CFU?
JWLS: After the Challenge Series, the Women’s Football Committee will meet to discuss and define the action plans to help realize the goals and objectives for development as set out in the Strategic Plan of the CFU.