Guam – With the opposing goalkeeper drawn out in an earlier play, Yasmeen Lopez faced an empty goal as she received a pass from the right side during her team’s opening day match of The Score’s Just Kick It All Girls Event at the Guam Football Association National Training Center.
Lopez took advantage of the rare opportunity and beamed one of the broadest smiles of the day after her goal as she trotted back to the center of the field for the ensuing kick off. When she couldn’t contain her excitement anymore, she raised her arms and celebrated again with her Quality Distributors FC teammate who was just as excited.
[Quality Distributors FC and ASC ISA Islanders square off in the U10 division on opening day of The Score’s Just Kick It All-Girls Event and the FIFA Festival for Girls at the Guam Football Association National Training Center.]
“I like playing in the all-girls (team) because last time during the youth league with the boys, they hogged the ball and didn’t want to pass it to me,” Lopez said. “I think we work together more as a team in the all-girls (team).
“I like playing soccer – it’s fun. I like the moves with the ball, scoring goals and stuff like that,” the nine-year-old added.
Lopez was among hundreds of girls participating in opening day matches of the event’s FIFA Festival for Girls put on with funding and other assistance from FIFA. “FIFA promotes the development of women’s football and is committed to creating opportunities for female players, coaches, referees and officials to become actively involved in the sport of football,” according to the organization’s mission statement for women’s football. In accordance to its women’s football mission statement, FIFA provided size 4 balls, bibs, and mini-goals, in addition to funding, after accepting a grant proposal from GFA, to start up the developmental program for girls. Individual participants also enjoyed Adidas apparel provided by FIFA, including pink jersey tops.
[The Wolverines and ASC ISA Islanders play a match in the U12 division on opening day of The Score’s Just Kick It All-Girls Event and the FIFA Festival for Girls at the Guam Football Association National Training Center.]
“This is the first time we have seen an all-girls league for the three age groups – U8 to U12 – as traditionally, they only play in the co-ed league or with their school teams,” said Cheri Stewart, GFA Director of Women’s Football. “It has been difficult to formulate an all-girls team in the co-ed league which is why we started the all-girls league apart from the Robbie Webber Youth League. So far, it’s been successful as we have seen an increase of new players registering with GFA and players who have returned after one or two years from the last time they’ve played at GFA.
“This is one milestone we have achieved within the GFA women’s football program and we look forward to many more,” Stewart added.
The FIFA Festival for Girls features three age brackets with the U8, U10, and U12 divisions playing a festival style format, which is purely developmental and no statistics are officially taken. The FIFA Festival for Girls will run for five weeks.
“I think its great that we have this just for the girls,” said Quality U10 coach Michelle Nadler. “First, they get the ball more and it’s easier for them to learn to work together as a team.
[The Lil’ Bombers and the Southern Cobras play a match in the U10 division on opening day of The Score’s Just Kick It All-Girls Event and the FIFA Festival for Girlsat the Guam Football Association National Training Center.]
“I think it’s also a good way to keep the girls playing the sport as they get older. Around the U12 or U14 age brackets, we tend to see a decline in the number of girls playing in the youth league. With the festival, I think the girls get the playing time to keep them interested in developing their skills and continuing with the sport,” Nadler added.
The FIFA Festival for Girls continues Saturday.