Despite significant advancement in women’s football in the CONCACAF region, male attitudes are still proving a major obstacle to their further progress.
This assertion has come from Sonia Bien-Aime, who last year became the first woman to be appointed to the executive committee of CONCACAF and is one of only two women on FIFA’s Executive Committee.
Speaking on the second and final day of the Soccerex Americas Forum held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday, Bien-Aime applauded Canada which she hailed as the blueprint which other countries throughout the CONCACAF region should emulate as they strive for further development of women’s and girls’ football.
A former captain of the Turks & Caicos Islands women’s football team, Bien-Aime said that even though there were some men who were willing and helped in the development of women’s football, there were still many others who were “stuck in the dark ages”.
She said while these people were now becoming somewhat compliant with FIFA mandates, there were still instances of resistance.
Giving an example, the football official said that several years ago FIFA made it mandatory that a percentage of the funds allocated to federations be applied to women’s football. However, she suggested that some were still “struggling” to apply those funds in specific areas.
“I have no idea where women’s football development would be in this region if FIFA hadn’t made it mandatory. And I think if we all want to be honest with ourselves – and I am saying this because in a lot of the member associations we have men there as leaders who make the [major] decisions – I would say they help but not as much as they should.
“We do have men that help, I can’t say it is a large number committed to women’s development football, but we also have a lot of them still stuck in the dark ages,” she stressed.
Bien-Aime noted a common problem in the region in women’s football was the transition for girls in the sport.
She explained that though the numbers of girls entering football regularly were good, the problem that occurred was trying to keep them in the game.
As it related to Turks and Caicos, she said one of the things they did to stall that was to provide players with as many competitive games as possible.
It was hoped this would give them an opportunity to express themselves on the field and keep them interested as players as well as lifetime supporters.
She suggested there was also a need for quality female coaches to not only coach women, but who also had the knowledge, application and dedication for the role. Bien-Aime noted there was a base of female coaches but they were not being tapped into.
On the CONCACAF region’s chances of the 2015 Women’s Football World Cup in Canada, Bien-Aime favoured the United States but was optimistic that in the next decade or so there could be a Caribbean women’s team at the games.
“I hope to see a Caribbean team in the women’s World Cup in ten years’ time . . . I think that could be a reality. I would like to see every Caribbean country have a fully developed and organised girls’ grassroots development programme and that again is not far fetched,” she said. (SDB Media)