By Kareece Nelson
Top women footballers in Tobago want to see more female participation on the sport, with girls starting at a younger age, and to see already talented players pursuing successful careers.
Newsday Tobago caught up with three footballers who play for the TT National Women’s team at the “Kick it with Karyn” 5th annual tournament at the Plymouth recreational grounds on January 5 where they shared their views.
National footballer Kenya ‘Yaya’ Cordner, who also plays internationally with the IL Sandviken Women's Football team in Norway, says there is a lot of talented female footballers in TT but they have to put in the work if they want a successful career in the sport.
“Trinidad and Tobago has a lot of young women with a bright future in football. However, it is up to them if they want to pursue football as a career, they have to want it,” she advised.
“We, as the ones who have made it out there and know what it takes, we can definitely guide them. However, it is up to them to push themselves forward,” said Cordner.
“You see a lot of youth with a lot of talent here in Tobago who have a bright future ahead of them. They just need guidance and if they get that, they will go places. We, the adults as the head (leaders) in the football, have to give them advice and ask them if this is what they want in life and if it is, we could then guide them accordingly.
“Once they believe in themselves and apply themselves to the training, they will be able to achieve,” she added.
“I did it with all the hiccups around me. A lot of people said that I shouldn't go forward, despite their words I set my mind and I went out and achieved.
Cordner did note challenges in pursuing a football career in TT. “It is hard, female footballers have to get out there their own, no one will help them.
“As you could see even at the level of the national team there is a lack of support,” she said, pointing also to limited support from both private and public stakeholders, even for international football matches by the national team.
National goalkeeper Kimika Forbes wants more girls participating in football in Tobago.
“There definitely needs to be more development in local female football. We have to get the girls involved at an earlier age. Most times you see boys starting off at three or four years of age, and not enough girls coming out. Most girls start only when they get to primary school.
“I wish we could see more improvement in that area.”
Forbes said all current and former national players should do their part to foster increase in female footballers.
“We should all come out and help in the coaching courses and be a force to reckon with. You don't necessarily need to depend on the government. We could do it (the work) ourselves, community based,” she said.
She said tournaments like ‘Kick it with Karen’ can help boost women’s football in a major way by providing a platform for exposure and growth.
Karyn Forbes, also a national player, and founder of the ‘Kick it with Karen’ tournament, said the annual event was formulated with the intention of giving back – teaching football skills and providing opportunities – to the youth in the Plymouth community.
She has plans to expand female participation in the sport.
“I am running a Youth League plus a Women's League because Tobago doesn't have a Women's League right now. I feel like I have the opportunity right now to bring it back and have more girls involved in Tobago.
“I would like to develop this one-day tournament into my own league. More or less it is a five-to-10-year plan and I will try to carry the league in the form of a six-month period of organised football as far as the United States.
“I'm not just trying to base this event in Trinidad and Tobago but also have it but go to islands in the Caribbean as well as have teams from there come here to play football,” she said. Karyn said her aspirations for the league was that it could emulate the TT Pro League or Super League, while adding regional and possibly international matches.