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Retired Richardson excited for women’s game

New generation: Richardson, right, with Robinson, left, and young footballers Brittany Pacheco, front, Lindsey Pacheco and Emile Cabral (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Bermuda women’s coach Naquita Robinson had plans for Dominique Richardson to lead the side this year, so news of her untimely retirement through injury came as a major blow.

At the launch of new initiatives for the women’s game this week, Robinson spoke of her initial plans to have Richardson captain the team in Caribbean Football Union qualifiers this year and to be a central figure in the women’s game when the new senior league starts up in the next few months.

However, Richardson, one of the island’s top players, announced her retirement at the age of just 23, unable to perform as she would have liked after three surgeries on her knees. Robinson admits that she will be a huge loss to the game, though Richardson hopes to give something back in a coaching capacity.

“Last year we launched a seven-year plan and right now we have 105 girls involved in the game between the ages of 11 and 22, the most ever,” Robinson said. “Dominique was at the top, in seven years she’ll be 30, the perfect age to be representing Bermuda at the senior level and being there with her experience.

“The girls love her and look up to her but unfortunately the injury got the best of her. She’s playing netball now, which means the injuries are maybe not that bad.

“We were looking to her to lead us into that tournament, but we do have a few options. She was an easy choice for us as captain and it is a loss to us as she is such a great ambassador to the sport both on and off the field.

“When we kicked off training towards the end of last summer she said: ‘thanks coach for considering me but I think I’m going to have to retire due to the injuries’.

“It’s unfortunate for Bermuda as a whole because she still has a lot to offer. I believe the injuries were caused by football so in the back of her mind will she be able to give her all completely.

“I do understand it, as much as it saddens me, but if she has a change of heart there is always going to be a place for her. It’ll be Dominique and 19 others. I really would love to use her and Ebonie Burgess in a coaching capacity because they will bring so much.”

A combine scheduled for today will launch the youth league which is set to start next weekend with five-a-side matches. Robinson is encouraged by what the future holds.

“It’s exciting times ahead and we have to look to the future,” she said. “I wish I had done courses when I was still playing.”

A football scholarship enabled Richardson to go to college at Barry University in Miami before obtaining a Master’s degree from Nottingham Trent University in England. She now works as an underwriter trainee at Chubb Limited.

More opportunities could open for female players on the island with Jim Evans, the assistant men’s and women’s coach at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine, on the island recently for two weeks checking out new talent for the school’s girls team to go with the eight male players from Bermuda they had last year.

“Danni Watson is 14 but in seven years she’ll be 21 and when she comes home from college she’ll have a league to play in,” Robinson said. “We’re also trying to make connections so that these girls can play post-college.”

Richardson, now 24, didn’t have much opportunities to continue playing the game after finishing college in 2014 but thinks women’s football is moving in the right direction.

“It is encouraging and I’m glad the BFA is taking this initiative because we went five or six years without a league,” said Richardson, the daughter of former cricketer Allen Richardson.

“When I graduated university in 2014 I came back but couldn’t play so that was a little disappointing.

“I’m very thrilled that they are revisiting the idea. I had the opportunity to work with a few of the younger players and the future is bright for women’s football in Bermuda.”

Richardson last played for her country in 2014 in the Women’s Caribbean Cup in Turks & Caicos.

“My age is young but my knees are the opposite,” she said. “I’ve had three knee surgeries so I’ve given up playing football and trying to be of use in things like coaching. Even life coaching because I’ve been through three knee surgeries and have still been able to come back and play. All the injuries were through football.

“I want to be an asset to the BFA in any way I can for the girls. With the right resources and coaching it is limitless for them. The talent is there for them to go as far as they want to take it.”