By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Sharlene Pondt is on a mission to get more girls playing football. Just two months after being named head of the BVI Football Association Women’s Committee, Pondt, who plays left midfield, sometimes defense or striker with the Ball Stars, said women’s football is not at the level her committee would like to see it. She said they are aware that there might be ideas that women are supposed to play the sport.
“Women can play football and decide on whatever they want to do,” Pondt stated. “We want to change that perception and we also want to girls to play at every age. Right now we have a lot of grassroots players between 6-11, but when they get into high school from the age of 12, we tend to find that they spread out into other sports, so we loose them. We want to make sure that at every age group, there’s something for women to be part of—whether it’s a league, futsal or beach football.”
This year, Pondt says, they want to make a change in how they have been approaching women’s football, targeting girls from a very young age, 5, 6 to as far as the seniors.
“We want to include and make sure that every girl that wants to play football has the opportunity to do so,” Pondt said, noting that the plan is to reach more into the schools, where the sport isn’t in the system as track and field and other sports, but they want to ensure girls know there are opportunities for them in the sport as well. “We also want to encourage girls to do well in school as well as in sports—of course school comes first—but we have a whole portfolio of plans.”
With a 9-A-Side Women’s Football League underway, Pondt noted that they went through out the high schools to get more girls to become involved with club teams. What they found she said, is although there’s a lot of them playing in the school leagues, they’re not playing on club teams in the premier league.
“We have a plan to combat that issue of girls not being transferred from the school league to the club leagues,” she indicated. “What we’re going to do is to give the clubs the responsibility of recruiting players so that girls can get the opportunity to play in the premier league, which is the level they should be once they reach the age of 15. Next year we have in our portfolio to implement a league for girls between the ages of 11 and 15. Instead of having girls playing with boys, we’re going to separate them from next year which should be awesome that the girls have their own game. We will be trying to do this for primary and high school.”