Embracing the participation of women in Caribbean football

Following on from International Women’s Day, Malaika Church believes that the Caribbean should take advantage of the increased FIFA funding for the women’s game by embracing wider women’s participation in the sport…

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Malaika Church. (pic credit: Grenada Football Association)

FIFA, the world’s governing body for football, under its new strategic plan FIFA 2.0 has pledged to provide more funding towards women’s football. The confederation recognizes that more can be undertaken to develop and promote the sport for women. The introduction of the FIFA Forward Development Programme provides financial support for opportunities in women’s development. Access to these programmes is not automatically granted, and it is the responsibility of member associations to apply for such funding from the parent body of FIFA.

I charge us as administrators from the Caribbean region to not solely source financial support that is available through FIFA, but additionally to make a clarion call to those at the helm of regional football governance to take an oath that our female players will be given the same opportunities to advance in the sport they love.

The FIFA Forward Initiative was introduced in July 2016. Video credit: FIFATV.

Financial constraints have proven to be a major setback for many smaller regional football associations as a reason for reduced organisation-wide emphasis on the growth of women’s football. With increased available funding, regional authorities now have a better chance to embrace FIFA’s vision which seeks a more inclusive approach. With more open-mindedness and an expanded vision, many shortcomings such as limited participation and inadequate infrastructure and personnel may be resolved. Provision may be taken to build administrative capacity, increase training of technical persons and expand participation in competitions, garnering increased exposure for the organisation.

By providing women with these opportunities we expect that within our region as advocated by the parent body of FIFA, both the confederation and member association levels can benefit from inclusive decision-making as well as foster a shift in the cultural attitudes toward women in the sport. Unfortunately, conflicting messages yet perpetuate misconceptions about women in football, therefore we all need to do our part and embrace the participation of women to encourage teamwork, to instil discipline and create lifelong friendships.

No longer should there be any doubt in our minds that our girls can aspire to be professional footballers, referees and administrators. The reality is that change cannot come overnight. However, I believe that consistent and constructive communication and action among those in positions of authority will solidify their commitment to ensuring that our region blossoms to its fullest potential, and leaves a lasting legacy for generations of women in football.

By Malaika Church

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Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave any constructive feedback in the comments box below. Malaika is the former Acting General Secretary at the Grenada FA – she has worked on FIFA’s Female Leadership Development Programme and is a member of CONCACAF’s Women’s Leadership Group. You can find her on Twitter here. Meanwhile, you can get in touch with THOCF on Twitter and Facebook.

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