Naquita Robinson excited by prospect of continued growth of women’s senior squad
Naquita Robinson believes she has every right to be excited about the bright future of the Bermuda women’s football team.
With Concacaf’s introduction of new international competitions for women, including major tournaments in 2022 and 2024, Bermuda’s senior team have been back in training in preparation for the first window of Women’s World Cup qualifiers in November.
However, for national coach Robinson, the sessions have served as not only preparation for the upcoming internationals but also an ideal opportunity to continue blooding a strong contingent of young players into the senior team.
Seeing those new faces among the squad has proved a realisation of long-term plan — implemented in 2015 — to ensure the continued strength of the women’s national team for years to come.
“We have been preparing for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers but also for the future in general as well,” Robinson said.
“We have a varied age range at training and even had players as young as 15 involved with the senior team. There is an under-20 tournament coming up as well but in my view I’m focusing on the senior team because those young players are involved in that already.
“We started implementing some processes with the younger players back in 2015 and now we are seeing that mixture of energy with experience. What we are seeing now was by design; it isn’t a big surprise to us.
“There are huge numbers in the younger generations and that is hugely exciting. We are now seeing the reality of what we planned six years ago.
“It bodes incredibly well for the future. I’ve got around 50 players who are eligible for the senior team, so it is certainly a case of strength in depth.
“I will not hesitate to include the younger players in the senior squad for upcoming international matches. If they are doing the job I require of them then they will make the team.”
While welcoming the return to training, Robinson conceded the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on much of the sporting calendar, had in fact served a positive purpose for the women’s national team.
“Getting back out on the field was obviously vitally important,” she added. “However, the pandemic actually allowed us to put a number of things together and change what we are doing.
“We realised we had to change some things and think a little bit outside of the box. The pandemic gave us that chance to step back and do that.
“There are many things we are doing to help reach our goals. We don’t have the same opportunities that other bigger nations have but we are doing all we can to continue punching above our weight.”
After the first window of group matches in November, a second round of games will continue in April 2022.
They will serve as a qualifier for a centralised finals event in July 2022, which will culminate in the winners securing a place at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.
In addition, the Women’s Concacaf Nations League will also take place in 2023-24 with a further guarantee of home and away fixtures within three league groups.
“Having competitions like the Nations League is huge,” added Robinson, reflecting on the significance of the Concacaf’s introduction of new international competitions for women. “We will have qualifiers both home and away, and that’s really exciting.
“It also means that every year we will have internationals to look forward to and that will help bridge that generational gap of players overseas who would normally finish playing at college, then have no football to continue with and drop off from the game.”