5 July 2000
one needed an instant example as to how far the art of time wasting
can go, then one need only have glanced at the fare on ESPN between
8 and 10 p.m., last Friday, June 23.
uninitiated into the state of women’s football in Trinidad and Tobago,
the sight of this country being thumped 11-0 by the USA in the Gold
Cup opener might have induced a combo of bemusement and frustration.
Unfortunately, what happened that night in Hershey, Pennsylvania was
really not surprising.
lost all four previous meetings with the current world champions by
a combined score of , there were no prizes
for guessing that it was going to be another torrid 90 minutes for Trinidad
and Tobago’s women. Indeed, what transpired was an exhibition of total
perfection versus embarrassing mediocrity. A contest between women who
can play football properly: and those who can’t. A match-up between
well-built females whose athletic prowess allowed them to shoot, pass,
head and control the ball just as well as any male: and a group that
mostly struggled to perform some of these functions efficiently. The
speed and slick passing of the American women left their counterparts
just as bewildered as the Trinidadian fans in the crowd. Apparently
shamed by what was happening to them, this country’s women attempted
to save face when, six minutes from the end, they started to push the
ball around in defence – hoping to curb the onslaught. It did not work
as the USA still managed to swarm the rearguard and claim a final strike,
in the 90th minute.
the end, it was more than just the result. That game in Hershey simply
put another layer of cement on the fact that women’s football in Trinidad
and Tobago has never been taken seriously – it has always been viewed
as a joke – and that we are all now the worse for it.
totally different from the United States where, from the 1970s, interested
girls where taught how to play the game, alongside the boys, with whom
they played. Because of an adequate physical education program, there
emerged thousands of young women who were well built and who could dribble
with the ball, score curling free-kicks and diving headers and make
spectacular diving saves.
there has been organization of women’s football here since 1981. Yes,
there was a national women’s league from 1986 to 1998 that was dominated
by one team, Rossi Potentials. Okay, there has even been a secondary
schools girls division that was instituted by the SSFL in 1987. But
where has all this gotten us? The answer: absolutely nowhere.
of the women’s game here has always been very low. The players, while
enthusiastic, are generally uncoordinated and give the opinion that
they were not been properly coached in the basics from an early age.
Had it not been for the success of the USA women’s team in the 1990s,
Trinidad and Tobago’s players would probably be leaving locals with
the false impression that women cannot play football. Now, everyone
knows that women CAN play football: but are aware that there is still
a problem in this country, where the local players still live up to
the early stereotypes.
Silva, perhaps this country’s best-ever female player, is one of the
few who belied the traditional views. While still a North Eastern College
in Sangre Grande, she amazed everyone with her skill and grace on the
ball – qualities that earned her a scholarship to Florida International
University in Miami, Florida.
she is a rare exception to the general rule. Which is a shame because
with this country’s established football culture, we ought to be producing
many more like her. Instead, we are now faced with a 20 year gap with
no means of bridging the divide.