Standout players this season in the Secondary Schools Football League's Girls Championship Division, defender Gamelia Waldron and her Signal Hill Secondary teammate midfielder Twinkle Thomas, will feature for T&T in the Caribbean Football Union Girls Under-14 Challenge Series which kicks off on Friday.
The tournament is part of CFU’s development initiative and is intended to give exposure to the women’s game in the region with a total of 22 teams contest groups in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis and T&T.
“This competition follows last year’s Women’s Challenge Series and drills down on the CFU’s commitment to grassroots football generally and the advancement of the women’s game specifically,” said CFU President Randolph Harris. “This will also foster their growth and development both on and off the football pitch.
The national youth team will be making its international debut at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva when it faces off against Grenada from 7 pm in the developmental competition being hosted by the T&T Football Association (TTFA). This match follows the opener between Suriname and Cuba from 4 pm.
“This competition is also important for us from a developmental perspective, as it allows us to appoint budding referees from the respective territories to officiate in the matches. This will shore up their skills and give them some of the much-needed practical experience required to advance to the next tier,” Harris added.
The T&T team, under head coach Marlon Charles, had its final session at the Ato Boldon venue on Thursday as the coach named his final squad which entered a residential camp at the Home of Football in Couva on Wednesday.
“We are excited about the tournament. The players are very keen to take the pitch knowing that is a developmental tournament. The opportunity for them is an enormous one,” Charles told TTFA Media.
“From day one we decided that the players must put their foot on the ball and play the possession game. This is a very important phase. There are so many things to take into consideration with these young ladies when it comes to their mindset. It’s very important for their development and it’s a good thing that the TTFA has going on with the CFU and it can help with the development of women’s football,” Charles added.
Meanwhile, Waldron and Thomas have excelled this year helping Signal Hill repeat as champion of the Tobago Zone and with the rest of the local team will be looking to start positively.
The strikers selected to lead the team in attack will be Nikita Jackson and Breana Smith while coach Charles' choice in midfield will be among Thomas, Rasheda Archer, Arie Bhagan, Orielle Martin, Talia Martin, Jewel Benjamin-Edmond and Mikayla St Clair. The other defenders are Faith Alexander, J'eleisha Alexander, Jenicia Benjamin, Angel Berot and Carissa Cowen and his options for goal-keeper are Sadiel Antoine and Mikeala Yearwood. Charles will pick his final 11 today and also name the captain.
The team's first challenge though will be to overcome any nervousness in its opening match of the series, which runs until Tuesday. T&T will challenge Suriname on Sunday and Cuba two days later at the Couva venue.
Admission for each matchday is $25 and tickets can be purchased at the venue on matchdays.
Faith Alexander (defender), J'eleisha Alexander (defender), Rasheda Archer (midfielder), Jenicia Benjamin (defender), Angel Berot (defender), Arie Bhagan (midfielder), Carissa Cowen (Defender), Nikita Jackson (striker), Orielle Martin (midfielder), Talia Martin (midfielder), Jewel Benjamin-Edmond (midfielder), Akia Morris (defender), Breana Smith (striker), Mikayla St Clair (midfielder), Sadiel Antoine (goal-keeper), Twinkle Thomas (midfielder), Gamelia Waldron (defender), Mikaela Yearwood (goal-keeper).
Cuba vs Suriname, 5 pm
T&T vs Grenada, 7 pm
Grenada vs Cuba, 5 pm
T&T vs Suriname, 7 pm
Suriname vs Grenad, 5 pm
T&T vs Cuba, 7 pm