The Bahamas Football Association (BFA) is sending a junior girls national team to take part in the 2022 CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) Under-15 Girls Championship, slated for July 31 to August 7 at the Hillsborough County Tournament Sportsplex in Tampa, Florida, United States of America (USA).
Guardian Sports caught up with the training squad as they were practicing and while they engaged in a scrimmage game against United FC. The final 18-member team along with coaching staff will be selected next week. There is not a head coach for the team as yet, but there are assistant coaches.
Assistant Ricqea Bain likes the progress that the team is making as they get closer to the date of competition.
“They have been improving week by week. We have introduced new tactics and they have been implementing it. The Grand Bahama girls came in and it was a great addition,” Bain said. “After not playing for two years, their progress has been good over the past few weeks especially as we went into the summer and train every day. We have seen them advance tremendously.”
One of those six girls from Grand Bahama is center midfielder, Kaylee Murray – just 13 years old.
“It has been good and a lot of work,” Murray said. “It will be worth it. If I make the team, I am looking to proudly represent The Bahamas. It will be good to make the team at 13. I am used to being one of the youngest players on a team. I hope to play well.”
Another assistant coach is Jodei Clarke. She has been working with the girls on a regular basis and is hoping they develop more chemistry.
“We are looking to defend as a unit. This is their first time playing together and in a tournament. We lack possessions so we need to keep the ball so we can advance forward. A lot of the girls will get a faster game pace when they compete over there because in The Bahamas we play on a smaller field. Most of all, they will get to have fun as some travel outside the country for the first time,” Clarke said.
Last week, coaches worked on playing the ball from the back which will help the girls with possession rather than kicking the ball up the field. They also worked on the goalkeepers distributing the ball on a set pace. Bain is hoping to play possession ball and move up the field to get into scoring position.
Valtinique Simmons plays the forward position mainly. She just finished grade nine at C.H. Reeves Junior High School and is looking forward to scoring goals.
“When I first came here, I was scared. Playing with a lot strange girls, I knew I had to get used to playing with them. I kept coming out to practice, I started to get better and realized that I could keep up with them. I hope I make the team and score a few goals for the team so we can come back victorious,” said Simmons.
A total of 31 teams have been divided into three leagues – A, B and C which was based on the women’s under-17 ranking. The Bahamas is in League B. They are in the Group E with the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Antigua and Barbuda. They will kick off play on Sunday July 31, taking on the Dominican Republic at 11 a.m. on Field Three.