School tourney changing the face of women's football in Portland

Sports

School tourney changing the face of women's football in Portland

…PFA/Ann-Marie Vaz Women's League kicks off with $1.65m sponsorship

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Sunday, February 16, 2020

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Portland Football Association (PFA) President Raymond Grant says the new season of the parish's female competition holds a world of possibilities for stakeholders.

He pointed to the benefit of player and coach development, the competition platform of the association, and a raised corporate profile underpinned by meaningful partnership with committed sponsorship.

Women's football in the parish is a new frontier for the PFA, but the administration has embraced its value in developing players and giving young women on a whole an outlet for positive engagement.

The Portland FA/Ann-Marie Vaz Women's League, which will be sponsored this season to the tune of $1.65 million, represents the pillars on which the female game in the parish is anchored.

“First of all, I want to say that we view women's football as crucial to our competition platform and a key plank in our long-term developmental goals. As an association, we are not committed singularly to men's football or women's football, we are committed to the absolute development of the game across the sexes and age groups,” Grant told the Jamaica Observer.

Grant, a former Jamaica Football Federation general secretary, said the Portland FA strategically decided to kickstart its women's programme in the high schools, where there is a strong fan base and desire for the young women to play the game.

“We decided that this competition of ours will be launched in the schools where we believe we would have the best shot of broad support in popularising and to help develop a culture of the female game in the parish.

“Our hope is that the schools, with their unbridled energy for sports, and football in particular, will drive a culture shift to a point where we can matriculate women's football up to the clubs,” said Grant.

The long-serving Portland FA boss says he was pleased with the output of the first season, and has great expectations as the build out continues in the current execution and the years to come.

“I must say that I am truly satisfied to see a growing spirit of competition among the schools in our first season, and based on all indications, the stage is set for yet another exciting season,” Grant noted.

In his address to Monday's launch of the league at the FA's Carder Park offices in Port Antonio, he urged supporters to continue to rally around the teams, and challenged players to maintain their high standards of play and discipline.

“I want to challenge all the supporters to support the ladies as they display their skills, and I want to challenge you the players to play to the best of your abilitities and within the confines of the laws of the game,” he said.

“I want to thank the schools for their participation last year and the following that they brought along, especially at the final. I pay special tribute to all the schools, the principals, teachers, coaches, parents, and the players,” Grant added.

He said without the sponsorship of Member of Parliament for Portland Eastern, Ann-Marie Vaz, the women's football programme would not have taken flight the way it has.

“I must thank our sponsor for her commitment to football in the parish, and the women's game in particular…Mrs Vaz's enthusiasm for the women's programme serves as inspiration for us as football administrators, and it is that kind of spirit that will keep the flames burning and will eventually lead to success across the critical areas,” Grant noted.

The $1.65 million in sponsorship will cover a wide spread of liabilities related to the competition. Among them are administrative costs, referee fees, direct costs related to the teams, and prize monies.

Vaz, addressing Monday's launch, could not contain her excitement when she heard how well last year's competition went.

“I am speechless with the recap that you have done with last year's competition and the selection of one of the girls to the national youth programme [Kerrisan Lawrence, national Under-17s].

“When I was approached about women's football it was a no-brainer, and all I did was to provide the funds and they have administered with a high standard of professionalism and I congratulate you. I am happy to renew the sponsorship as I am about empowering women and happy that I have provided an avenue for my women in high school to showcase themselves at a higher level,” said Vaz.

INSPORTS officer for Potland and former Reggae Girl Sharon Harris charged players to “Go for what you want and work hard for it.”

“When you win celebrate, but don't be boastful. If you lose, don't be a sore loser, be humble and be good ambassadors of the sport. Be the best version of who you are on and off the field,” Harris said.

The launch was followed by the opening game of the competition where Titchfield High defeated Port Antonio High 2-0, with as national invitee Lawrence scoring a brace.

In another game on opening day, Happy Grove and defending champions Fair Prospect ended 1-1 at Hector's River.

The other participating school is Buff Bay High.

— additional reporting by Everard Owen


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