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Team Bahamas made strides in Guatemala

Under-17 national squad held Trinidad to scoreless draw in final match
KELSIE JOHNSON
Guardian Sports Reporter
kelsie@nasguard.com

Published: May 10, 2012

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Failing to capture one of the qualifying spots for the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup has not shaken the spirits of The Bahamas’ national soccer team. The team is still ranked among the top teams in the region.

Team Bahamas gave up 16 goals over two games, before storming back to hold off Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago to a scoreless draw on Monday. The Bahamas played in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-17 Women’s Championships, out of Group B.  The team did not win any games at the tournament which was held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, but were very impressive in holding Trinidad scoreless after losing to them 3-0 during the Caribbean Football Union’s (CFU) Championships. The Bahamas was shut out by the United States of America, 10-0, and 6-0 to Mexico, at last week’s CONCACAF’s Championships.

At the end of the week-long tournament, The Bahamas was fourth overall in its group, and eighth among the countries playing in the two divisions.

In the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), The Bahamas is ranked third, this according to general secretary in the Bahamas Football Association (BFA) Fred Lunn. The eighth spot ranking in CONCACAF, for that age group, is an historic feat for The Bahamas. It is the highest position ever held by a team playing under the BFA’s umbrella.

The under 17 girls squad first made history, last year, when they advanced through the rounds of the qualifiers. Lunn congratulated the team, describing the recent showing as “outstanding”.

“The difference is a developed program like the United States and the developing program that we currently have here,” said Lunn. “If we keep that in context, then you would say that they did an outstanding job especially against Trinidad and Tobago when they played them to 0-0 draw. The conditions were very tough in Guatemala. It is very high above sea level – I think about 2,000 feet so they had trouble breathing and the heat was tremendous. It is unlike what they have experienced here in The Bahamas playing.

“Yes, I think they did a tremendous job representing us. As a developing team, we had about 11 girls on the team that were around 14-years-old and playing in that category. All the teams were at age 17. I think that they performed exceptionally well.”

Lunn agreed that more exposure is needed, but noted that a bigger financial budget is required in order to accommodate such requests. He went on to say that some of the international programs have the luxury of taking their players out of school to train, for weeks at a time. In The Bahamas daily training is held, with workouts running for about two to three hours. Removing the players from school, just for training, is not an option for the BFA.

A confident Lunn believes that the team will do much better the next time around. “Instead of having 14-year-olds playing against 17-year-olds, we should be able to match up. We don’t have the luxury of taking our kids out of school for 42 days, so you can see the differences between a developed program and one that is still developing. For our region, which is CFU, we are competitive. We are ranked third right now, and to tie Trinidad, which is ranked number two, is great. We can see the improvement over the six-month period training program. That is important. Now we have to work toward being number one in the region.”

There is a female’s league in the country, however it is not as vibrant as the male’s. Providing more play for the girls is another option the BFA will look at in the near future. They are grateful to the support given from the country at large and thanked the parents, who were in attendance, for their commitment to the sport and athletes.

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