Bermuda Under-14 girls prepare for Caribbean semi-final
Don Vickers has challenged his Bermuda side to take another step closer to Caribbean Union Girls’ Under-14 Challenge Series campaign after his side has surpassed expectations in Antigua.
Having topped the four teams in group B, Bermuda now find themselves just two games away from triumph, starting with a semi-final encounter today.
Vickers is full of praise for his side’s endeavours, both in their results and the way they have acquitted themselves.
“From my point of view the tournament has been really good so far,” said Vickers, whose side staged an impressive turnaround against Bonaire in their final group game to seal a 3-1 victory to ensure a place in the knockout phase.
“We came here with the expectations of seeing how we could compete, try and earn the right to compete at this level and, win or lose, try to progress as players.
“While there are still aspects that need to be worked on, like taking our chances, the players are developing all the time and have had some really strong results.
“It has also been really pleasing to see the mental aspect of the performances. Even when things haven’t gone their way in matches, they have found ways to adapt at times and stuck to the fundamentals that we wanted from them.
“The final will take place on Sunday and our flights to leave are booked for Monday, so while we’re here we may as well go for it and try to win the tournament.
“There are some strong teams still in contention and battling it out, but we’re hoping it’s going to be a good outcome for us.”
The team’s achievements take on greater significance as the head coach has a relatively young squad at his disposal after a crop of more senior players were called up to the under-17 squad before the tournament.
“The squad worked really hard in preparation for the tournament and then some of the stronger girls within the squad moved up to the under-17 set-up,” he added.
“It meant that we had to shuffle the squad and a quarter of the players are still only 12 years old.
“However, how they’ve managed to perform they way they have and more than hold their own against strong teams with older girls has been really impressive. They have done a brilliant job.”
While his own preparations were hampered by the loss of a number of key personnel within his squad, Vickers is well aware of the the greater importance of his role in preparing his players to take the next step in their career with the national team.
“Seeing the players going on and progressing through the age levels is what it is all about,” he added. Even at this age, the idea is to try and push them on to that next level.
“This is one of the first steps in their development on the international stage and so we have to focus on how we can help them before making that step up.
“Seeing these girls progress through the age groups is the goal for me as their coach. I speak with Naquita [Robinson, senior women’s coach] regularly to see what she is looking for from her players and how we can help with the development of the younger players.
“For all of us that ultimate focus is the highest level that these girls can play at. Women’s football has enjoyed success on the international stage in recent years and so looking ahead that all starts with preparing them the best we can at this level.”