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Bermuda women’s coach Naquita Robinson takes positives from Maryland training camp

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Nia Christopher scored three of Bermuda's four goals in their two practice matches in Maryland last week (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The senior women’s national football team have just returned from a week-long training camp in Maryland in preparation for Concacaf World Cup qualifying matches in November.

LeiLanni Nesbeth joined the senior women’s national team for a training camp in Maryland last week (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The 22-member squad played two matches in Huntingtown, Maryland, losing 8-2 to the Washington Spirit Development team last Monday before going down 5-2 two days later to Coppermine United, a semi-pro team who play in United Women’s Soccer League 2.

Naquita Robinson, head coach of the women's national team

Naquita Robinson, the head coach, was pleased with the performances of the team, who were captained by Marley Christian and Eva Frazzoni, and contained 15-year-olds Samara Darrell and twins Jahni Simmons and Jahde Simmons.

Also returning to the national team set-up was LeiLanni Nesbeth, who has been keeping her options open as she aims for a professional career after she graduates from university.

Nesbeth, a student at Florida State University, has been in Michigan at a training camp since school ended in May, joining up with the Bermuda team in Baltimore. She scored one of the four Bermuda goals from the penalty spot while Nia Christopher scored the other three goals.

“The tour served the purpose we wanted it to serve, we don’t get much games so we needed to play against opposition as we head into our World Cup qualifiers in November,” explained head coach Naquita Robinson.

“A lot of girls are overseas so we haven’t had an opportunity to see them play together. In the first match we were down 7-1 at half-time, but we were looking at different players in different positions.

“The team we played was a good team, but our advantage was speed and that’s how we scored our goals. Having a strength and conditioning coach is vital but it is something we don’t have at the moment.

“That’s the one thing that is keeping us separate from the rest of the pack, the ability to stay in matches as long as possible.”

Robinson added: “The second game was much better, 4-0 at the half and the final score 5-2, but we worked out some of the kinks. If we had played a third game we would have seen even more of an improvement.

“It’s key that the girls get matches; that’s the only way we are going to see where we are. It was definitely worthwhile. Although it wasn’t against a country, it still served the same purpose.

“We learnt a lot more by playing against these teams then, say, against a team that we probably would have dominated. I think more teams can use these types of training tours, no pressure and for the girls to see where they’re at.

“A lot of times we can only gauge ourselves against ourselves because that’s who we play against. That was a positive for me because most of the scrimmages in Bermuda are against boys, but when they play against girls who are as good as the boys, or better, they get a different sense of where they really are.”

Bermuda are waiting to see who they will be grouped with in the World Cup qualifiers which will see teams fighting for places in the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Bermuda Under-20 side also have a qualifying campaign in September when they travel to Curaçao for first-round matches against St Vincent, Dominica and the US Virgin Islands.

Having Nesbeth involved with the senior team was a tremendous boost for the team, the coach said. “We got to see the level she’s at as well. Before LeiLanni was a pretty good distance ahead of the pack but now the girls are aspiring to get to Leilanni’s level and have worked hard,” Robinson said.

“It was good having her as a part of this training camp, to see the players she will be playing with. Yes, she has kept her options open, maybe to play for the US at some point. But they are yet to come calling, so the door is always open for her to play with us.

“Hopefully that’s the direction she’s heading in. We had scouts out there looking at the players, so she is going to get the same opportunities playing with us as she would get playing anywhere else. Even more with us because she’ll get more playing time and will be seen more.

“It’s definitely a good thing to have LeiLanni as part of our group. If she makes herself available for November, she’ll definitely be a welcomed addition.”

Robinson was appointed Bermuda women’s head coach in 2012 and coached the team in her first role at the 2013 Island Games. She has seen many of the players come through the junior ranks.

“We started the process in 2015, and this is 2021, 2022 and 2023 years to look and see where we’ll be with the senior women’s national programme,” she said.

“Maybe 98 per cent of the girls in the national programme are girls that I invited and brought into the programme.

“Nia Christopher is taller now and stronger and scored three of the four goals, while LeiLanni scored the fourth one. I’m excited with what Nia is going to bring, I think she’s just turned 20.

“Six or seven players from this group are overseas in school. Any team that we come up against in the Caribbean, we’ll give them a run. We obviously want to match the Jamaicas, Haitis and Trinidads consistently, Haiti being the only one we’ve never beaten at any level.”

The team just returned home and will soon resume training with their sights on the World Cup qualifiers.

“I gave them the week off as we have to be Covid-tested, but we’ll be back at it next week...until November,” the coach said.

Bermuda touring squad: Terrinae Trott, Samantha Davies, Marley Christian, Delia Ebbin, Sierra Fisher, Danni Watson, Koa Goodchild, Leilanni Nesbeth, Nia Christopher, Eva Frazzoni, Jaden Masters, Jya Ratteray-Smith, Kenesha Nannette, Khyla Brangman, Trinae Edwards, Symira Lowe-Darrell, Satia Burchall, Samara Darrell, Zorena Anderson, Jahni Simmons, Jahde Simmons, Jaylen Bean.

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Published August 04, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated August 03, 2021 at 9:10 pm)

Bermuda women’s coach Naquita Robinson takes positives from Maryland training camp

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