Half a million reasons to kick-start women’s football
Charryse Bean dreams of seeing Bermuda walk out at a World Cup final as part of her major aspirations to “reboot” women’s football after receiving a $500,000 grant from Fifa.
The grant comes at a pivotal time with a key strategic plan already under way to help give the women’s game the boost it richly deserves, enabling Bean, the Bermuda Football Association Women’s Committee chairwoman, and the Women’s Football Committee the opportunity to rejuvenate all aspects of the sport on island, including senior and junior national teams, coaches, referees and school football.
“It is a case of balancing the funds to make sure every aspect of the women’s game get what they need,” said Bean, a former player.
“We’ve decided that we will split the money up, and the great thing is that it doesn’t have to be spent all at one time.
“We have a strong strategic plan in place specifically for our women and I’m hugely excited what we are now able to do for all of our females connected to football.
“Concacaf and Fifa have committed to improving the women’s game and we have definitely benefited from having a clear and strong strategic plan already in place.
“That includes finding a home for women’s football, helping with club assistance, investing properly in domestic tournaments and leagues, funding for female coaches courses, more playing exposure at tournaments and a dedicated programme to be able to send girls away to school and college.
“Ultimately, I believe we will see one of our women’s teams qualify for a World Cup; it’s a major dream for us.
“Our under-15s won the Concacaf Championship [second division] in 2018 and so, for us, one aim has to be looking at one of our teams making a World Cup.
“I truly believe we will see that happen and I believe we will continue to make Concacaf Championship finals on a more regular basis.”
One key area that is being focused on as part of the blueprint towards success is capitalising on the burgeoning increase of girls taking up the sport at a young age, whether through schools or clubs, something that was severely lacking in Bean’s playing days.
“The key for us is that girls are starting to play at a young age and that is a massive difference to when I played,” she added. “We had no youth teams and once we got older and had families, there was nothing to feed into with our own children.
“Once I took over the programme, I made it a priority with my team to make sure we could build success from the youth up and create a clear pathway from youth to senior football.
“We talked to schools, which really helped because we had teams and competition. Some clubs already had women’s teams like PHC and Dandy Town, but we’re looking to help other clubs understand the benefits of having a girls’ programme.”
As well as progress on the field, Bean also spoke of the need for women’s football to be able to make its mark off the field to better educate not only people on island, but also the players themselves about the opportunities available to them.
“We’re calling it a reboot for us because as a smaller nation it’s about rethinking what we’ve done and giving our women more positive exposure moving forward,” she added.
“We are trying to help market women’s football better. There’s a need to increase the exposure around the women’s game to allow people to see it and understand women’s football on the island.
“It’s also a case of showing the girls that there are opportunities through football and show them that they can go off to college because of playing football.
“Some of the easiest scholarships to get, particularly in the United States, are through football and those pathways are already there.
“It is about pushing our girls and women to the fore in terms of exposure, and now we will be able to do things we haven’t been able to do in the past.
“We will continue to push football as an option to our girls and help change some attitudes towards girls playing for the better.”
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