TT WOMEN’S goalkeeping coach James Baird, who believes the national women’s senior football team have the potential to qualify for the next edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, is eager for the resumption of women’s club football to help improve the national women’s programme.
TT played Panama in two international women’s friendlies over the past week marking the return of international football in TT. It was the first match since the end of 2019.
Football leagues and competitions have remained on the sidelines since the covid19 pandemic started to affect TT in March 2020.
There has been no club football in TT during the pandemic including the TT Women’s League Football, TT Pro League and the Secondary Schools Football League. Some of TT’s Caribbean neighbours have allowed sports to resume in the past few months.
In Jamaica, the Jamaica Premier League (football) resumed months ago and earlier this week it was announced that school football in Jamaica will resume in mid-November.
Baird is eager for football leagues to resume in TT as it will help move the sport forward.
“We need those (local) players playing because we have players coming in from abroad who are playing (at the) professional level (and) some of them at college level, so we really need to get something going locally so I am hoping in the coming months local football can restart…I think that will help the national team going forward.”
In the first match between TT and Panama on October 21, the teams played to a 0-0 draw at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
On October 25 at the same venue the match ended 1-1.
Striker Kennya Cordner gave TT an early lead, but Panama equalized in the closing stages of the match.
The matches were the first two assignments for interim head coach Kenwyne Jones. Jones, who will serve as interim coach until November 30, was announced as the coach on October 18.
The matches against Panama aided TT’s preparations for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The qualifying phase of the world cup will kick off in February 2022 with the Concacaf Women’s Championship qualification competition.
Goalkeeper Kimika Forbes was one of the stars over the two matches which included stopping a penalty in the second encounter.
Baird said, “She (Kimika) has been fantastic for the last five months, she has been great.”
Baird believes Kimika can serve as an inspiration to other women to become goalkeepers.
“We know the quality of Kimika over the years, but that should really inspire the new generation looking at Kimika and saying, ‘I want to be that in the future.’”
Baird said the technical staff studied film of the Panama team which helped Kimika cope with the set pieces during the matches.
“We watched a lot of their set pieces, penalties…so obviously that gave her that little edge in terms of the set pieces and the penalty. As I said I think she has been working tremendously hard on positioning so that obviously helped her hugely in the match.”
Some of TT’s experienced players featured in the matches including Maylee Attin-Johnson, Cordner, Lauryn Hutchinson and the Forbes sisters – Kimika and Karyn.
On having so many experienced players back with the team, Baird said, “I am very excited. We have got a fantastic bunch of ladies and the future is going to be good for these girls, so I am really looking forward to the coming months and I am more than sure that we can make it to that world cup.”