Speaking with JTV News last week, three women – Kimberly Smith, Morgan Creque and Lil-Makeda Fahie – who represented the BVI in their recently concluded Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Women’s World Cup Qualifying said the tournament was difficult for the BVI women’s team.
Fahie said one of the major issues was the fitness of the team. She noted most of the players work and it was hard to get efficient and sufficient time to get in shape.
“If you ask other women who played before us, they will testify that at the national level, it is a reoccurring theme that when we have these things coming up, the [BVI]FA tends to wait a bit too late to get us in shape. Since these last games, before then, we hadn’t really done anything. Even in the local league here we do not play that often,” Fahie said.
“Our younger players are more in shape because they have the time. I would say discipline among the players was a problem, but it is kind of a meet-me-halfway kind of thing. We were trying to negotiate certain things and every time we expressed ourselves, we were met with defence. It was never met with an open mind or some consideration. We were always shut down and everything was seen as an attack,” she added.
Creque noted that after their game against Haiti where they lost 21-0, the team saw on social media where other women’s football teams were sending letters to their associations and the BVI’s team decided to follow the same template as they recognised it was the only way they were going to be heard.
“We never had an after-tournament meeting. So, we decided that we were going to take this route as a team. The women were going to have to hold hands and go together for this want of change. So, we decided to write a letter and list all the points we wanted to change. We wanted a physiotherapist, we need different medicals, changes in coaching, and management and we sent it off to the FA. We said we will give them about two days to respond and all we got was ‘received your letter, we read your letter’,” Creque added.
Smith also added that the BVI is facing teams that have professionals in their ranks while the current team is made up of amateur players. She added the FA needed to do what is best for the women’s game and focus on the group of players it has.
Smith noted the existing regiment and formation of the women’s team try to reflect that of the men’s team but she said this cannot work as the women’s team, at this stage, is not as skilled or fit as the men’s team.
“We cannot go off how the men play because we are not as fit as the men, we don’t have the skills. It is different. You cannot put us in a formation like the men’s team when we are not at the level they are. We are not them,” she added.
Meanwhile, all three players agreed that with further investment in the female programme, the women’s game can be furthered in the territory.
“We have people that can play, we have people that can be professionals. But we need to focus on our strengths and weaknesses and build from there. We can be where Haiti is at. We just need the resources to do that. They are not paying attention to us enough for us to be playing professionally. You cannot get professional players if you do not have professionalism in any way,” Smith said.
Creque also highlighted this was the first tournament she got paid to represent the national team and she has been playing since 2014.
“We only just started getting paid. This tournament, I can testify for myself since I have been playing since 2014, is the first tournament I have been paid for. I can testify other men have been getting paid way before. But I don’t think any women in the BVI have gotten paid before,” Creque said.
“We come against professionals. They play football in the morning, at lunch and in the evenings. We don’t have those schedules. And it is not just because of work. If we were paid enough to stop our jobs and actually dedicate our time, we would have done it,” she added.