FIFA, TTFA to expand girls schools’ league

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Secondary Schools Football League president Merere Gonzales –

FIFA has partnered with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee and Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) to host a pilot project for girls aged 13 and under.

Merere Gonzales, SSFL president, made this announcement at Wednesday’s launch of the 2022 season at Ato Boldon Stadium Training Centre in Balmain, Couva.

FIFA wants TT to host a short football tournament, in November, for girls 13 and under, to help promote the sport’s growth among young female players.

“It is a FIFA initiative. It is within this time of the calendar in FIFA and their main concern is about promoting.

“They have set aside a particular budget to facilitate for girls 13 and under age group football. They are working alongside our member associations to have such an event materialise,” he said.

It is their intention to use this mini-tournament as a platform to construct a fully-functional U13 girls division for the 2023 SSFL season.

It’s a work-in progress, Gonzales said. The initiative is being led by TTFA’s director for women’s football Jinelle James.

“We have a 13 and under form one boys division but none for girls. So we’re heartened by that and we’re going along with them working in collaboration to facilitate and accommodate for the first time in the SSFL for all girls who are desirous of playing football who are coming into secondary school,” he added.

The girls however, will not be limited to form one only, and will be open to all players within the age group.

Gonzales continued, “Seeing that it’s a pilot project, FIFA will sponsor two kits for 12 teams. The 12 teams are being shortlisted from the various five zones including Tobago.

“Because this is in the embryonic stages, in a school that is unable to provide a full team of 18-20 players then we have created a concession so they can merge; so two, three and four schools can make up a team.”

Gonzales confirmed they have welcomed the idea and are very much involved in student-athletes football, particularly in this age bracket for girls, to further advance and promote girls football.