Central to use football as a catalyst for change among young females

Pro League club to host two-week All-Female Football Camp

(From left to right) Central FC managing director Brent Sancho, Shannon Walisch, operations manager Kevin Harrison, Marissa Mohammed, and director of youth development and women’s football George Romano during Thursday’s launch of Central FC’s All-Female Football Camp

With school violence, obesity, and even teenaged pregnancies among major concerns among young Trinidadian females, Central Football Club hopes that football can be catalyst for change.

On Thursday Central FC launched its inaugural All-Female Football Camp, which will kick off on July 7 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training field and run for two weeks.

Speaking at the official media launch at the All Out Restaurant and Bar at the Queen’s Park Oval on Thursday morning, former Trinidad and Tobago defender and 2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho, in his capacity as owner and managing director of Central disclosed details of the All-Female Football Camp.

The camp will run from July 7 to 18 and will also have sessions at the Presentation College Ground in Chaguanas. The camp caters for females ages 8 – 18 and interested persons can contact 679-5060 or 755-3734 or register online at centralfctt.com. The cost per female is $250 for one week or $300 for the full two weeks.

Sancho said, “Using football as a catalyst, we hope to provide mentors and role models for young girls, to provide them with health and personal safety advice, to encourage them to become team players, to become less selfish and to learn to respect themselves and others around them.

“With teenage pregnancies continuing at an alarming rate together with women contracting sexually transmitted diseases, who (are) providing alternative choices for these young girls? Who (are) encouraging these girls to finish their educations and aim for good, well paid careers when all they see in their future are jobs in fast food restaurants or supermarkets?

“One of the aims of our camp is to educate the girls about U.S. College soccer scholarships. We hope that some of the girls will be motivated enough to develop their football skills alongside their educational studies so that they can apply for a U.S. scholarship.”

Shannon Walisch, of the United States, and Trinidadian Marissa Mohammed, now former students of the University of Tampa, and are presently on a playing stint with Central FC’s Women’s Team in the Women’s League Football (WoLF), will serve as player/coaches during the camps. While former U.S. based coach and present Central FC director of youth development and women’s football, George Romano, will oversee the All-Women’s Football Camp, which is supported by Phoenix Park Gas Processors, Oscar Francois Limited, Gatorade, and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.

The camp, which falls under the Central FC Women’s Programme, entitled “Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself”, will also feature motivational and leadership talks from local prominent women.

Sancho explained, “At Central FC we are often asked why we put so much effort and resources into women’s football, especially as we are a new club yet to celebrate our second anniversary.

“We, on the other hand, cannot understand why other people cannot see the value in investing in women’s football.

“In the male dominated sport of football, we hear the same recurring complaints. We hear people say that our government should invest more in football, yet we have a female prime minister and many women in ministerial roles.

“We hear people say that our regional corporations should do more, yet there are dozens of female councillors and administrators.

“We hear people say that corporate T&T should invest more in football, yet over fifty percent of T&T’s top companies have female CEO’s, directors and chairpersons.

“We hear people say that we should find ways of attracting more supporters, yet nearly fifty percent of our population is female.”

Sancho added that there are also many opportunities for females in football administration; from administrators, to match officials, to match commissioners and more. And it’s not just all talk. He highlighted that Dyan Gormandy is the equipment manager of the club’s professional team and youth teams, while trainer Lyndsay Murray and team doctor Tonya Walsh will serve the pro team next season, and that last season Ahkeela Mullon served as the Reserve team coach.

Sancho, who along with Central FC staff hosted such events as “Treat Her Like A Lady” and “Let’s Give Breast Cancer The Boot – women’s football tournament”, continued, “So, at Central FC we believe that investing in women’s football promotes a healthy lifestyle, instills good citizenship, encourages education, offers career opportunities, attracts new sponsors to the club and helps to build our supporter base.”