FOLLOWING the playing of the recent Reinas Shield, an Under-17 football competition for girls, coaches have called for more football tournaments geared toward the younger cohorts on the island.
Livingston Lancelot, who coaches the Ballaz Academy girls' team that played in the competition, as well as the Camperdown High School girls' football team in the ISSA Schoolgirl league, praised the organisers for their vision in staging the Christmas tournament.
"This is a wonderful idea. We really appreciated it and the effort that Reinas put into it to put this tournament together. The girls really had a good time and I think we should have more tournaments like this because, as far as I can remember in our country here, we have never had anything like this for our youngsters."
Lancelot whose team finished as runners-up in the Reinas Shield, was particularly happy that the girls were able to compete with people in their age group, something which does not obtain in the local premier league for women.
"We have the premier league for the bigger girls but the little ones have to be playing with the bigger ones all the time, so this was a great tournament and we are really looking forward to another tournament like this.
"I think all the teams really enjoyed it; it was a great final. Both teams really played well, the teams gave of their best, and we really appreciate the effort by the organisers of this tournament," he concluded.
Former National Under-20 Coach Andrew Edwards, founder of Genesis Football Academy, said the Reinas Shield was a massive opportunity for his girls.
"First of all, I want to commend Neo Oxford on two grounds in particular. Firstly, to establish Jamaica's first-ever all-female academy — and the evidence is clear that he has been doing a pretty decent job, if not a great job, with the group of girls that he has under his care. Several of them have been part of national youth teams and when you see them play, you can see that they do understand the game and have the basic fundamentals down.
"As it relates to the Reinas Shield, Neo clearly has a good grasp of what he is trying to do. It is amazing and very, very commendable in my opinion and something that should be supported as much as possible.
"For Genesis, we were grateful for the opportunity to participate. We want to use platforms like these to continue to excite girls to play football and to develop them as best as we can."
Kadeesh Fishley, head coach of Next Generation Women's Academy, said that she hopes the tournament is here to stay.
"It's good. I think it's something we have lacked for a very long time, having competitive leagues at the different age groups. We have usually had it only at the senior level but we had the U-20 competition over the summer and now the U-17 over the Christmas. We just hope it is something that will continue and for a very long time.
"It will help because it gives them valued match experience, playing time as well, so more playing time can only do good things for us."
The participating teams are looking forward to the Easter tournament that will be played for Under-15 girls. Jamaica will compete in their second-consecutive FIFA Women's World Cup which will be played in Australia and New Zealand this summer.
– Dwayne Richards