The Under-17 World Cup qualifier tournament starts Saturday, August 22, at the Elquemedo Willett Park in Charlestown, and include the teams from the British Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago and host team St. Kitts and Nevis, aka the SugarGirls.
The reception was also the occasion for the official declaration of the opening of the tournament, which was done by Minister Brandy-Williams. She spoke of the value of having the tournament in Nevis and her hopes for the future of female football in Nevis.
“I am hoping that this tournament on Nevis will be an ‘eye-opener’ so that more females will find the sport one that they would want to indulge in,” Brandy-Williams said, as she thanked the SKNFA for giving Nevis the opportunity to host the tournament. “Together I know we can do big things, and I am certain that this is the first of great things to come,” the minister stated before declaring the tournament officially opened.
Acting Premier Alexis Jeffers, who encouraged the teams to play fairly and to exhibit good sportsmanship, officially welcomed the teams. He was also pleased of the opportunity to have the tournament on Nevis. He said, “In our opinion, this tournament is certainly a marque tournament. It is something that Nevis has never seen before, and for that, we are very grateful to be host. I do believe that Nevis is going to demonstrate to you… that we know how to do great things here on Nevis.”
SKNFA President Anthony Johnson spoke of the historic event for Nevis and the intention to spread football widely. Johnson said, “It is for the first time in the history of football in St. Kitts and Nevis that a tournament of this magnitude is being held on the island of Nevis, and that is because we at the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association believe very much in expanding the base of football. We do not believe that football is an event that should take place only in Basseterre.”
Over last few years, several premier league matches have been played on Nevis, plus Nevis-hosted FIFA and CONCACAF courses. Johnson commended Minister Brandy-Williams for agreeing to have the Nevis Island Administration assist with hosting this tournament, and he thanked the Local Organizing Committee for “an excellent job to ensure the tournament has come to fruition”.
President Johnson told the players that football provided opportunities that could impact them in their future, and urge them to take the game seriously. He said, “This tournament is important, not only for which team goes forward to the next round, but it is important for you in terms of capacity building… This tournament guarantees you a level of exposure from which you can only benefit, so I ask you to take the tournament seriously, and to go out there and play, not only for your country, which is extremely important, but play also for your family and play for yourself, because this tournament could be the starting point in a very long and successful career.”
There were also brief remarks from the team managers:
British Virgin Islands: “We are pleased to be here. We’ve had a great couple of days preparing. It will be the first time most players of our team have been to Nevis. This is absolutely a platform for all the players at this age. We hope there is a lot of hard work done on the field and in the right spirit, with fair play. Thank you for having us, and we look forward to the competition.”
Commonwealth of Dominica: We are pleased with the hospitality shown to us, and we look forward to a good competition. We are a young team, and we are here, not just to participate, but also to learn from the other teams so that we can improve our skills in football.”
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: “I’ll like to thank St. Kitts-Nevis for having us here. I thank all the teams for being here.”
Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis: “We welcome all the visiting teams to our shores. I want to take the opportunity to encourage everyone to come out for three very good days of female football action, and support all of the teams.”
For the rest of the evening, team players interacted with each other and did quite a bit of dancing.
The tournament will feature double-headers on each match day.
Match #1 / 5:30 p.m. / Trinidad and Tobago vs. Dominica
Match #2 / 8:00 p.m. / St. Kitts-Nevis vs. British Virgin Islands
Match #1 / 5:30 p.m. / British Virgin Islands vs. Trinidad and Tobago
Match #2 / 8:00 p.m. / St. Kitts-Nevis vs. Dominica
Match #1 / 5:30 p.m. / British Virgin Islands vs. Dominica
Match #2 / 8:00 p.m. / St. Kitts-Nevis vs. Trinidad and Tobago