BELIZE CITY, Wed. Sept. 22, 2021– Belize celebrated our 40th anniversary of Independence today, which means the group of under-twenty-year-old young women who travelled on September 10 to Curacao to represent The Jewel at the Concacaf U20 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, were at least twenty years away from being born at the time of our Independence on September 21, 1981. Coming as it did at a time of global political turmoil including the Iran-hostage crisis, Independence found the young nation of Belize facing enormous economic challenges; and it was appropriately reflected in one of the celebration slogans – A New Beginning.
For our young female footballers, after years of receiving big scores whenever venturing in international competition, the recent focus and financial stimulus from FIFA has enabled our Football Federation of Belize (FFB) to concentrate a lot of efforts and resources into female football development, from the primary schools all the way up to its National Amateur Women’s League (NAWL); and the efforts are beginning to pay off, as evidenced by the results from this recent U20 venture.
There were only 3 teams in Group D of the U20 Women Qualifiers in Curacao – Belize, Suriname and Grenada; of which only the group winner would advance to the next round of play in 2022.
On the opening day, Monday, September 13, Belize looked on as Suriname crushed Grenada, 5-2.
Belize then faced Suriname on Wednesday, and Belize led 2-1 at halftime, with both goals coming from Khalydia Velasquez; but Suriname came back to tie it up at 2-2, both their goals coming from Saveira Gallant (8’ & 55’), and then they got the 3-2 game winner on a (66’) Belize own goal.
Going into the game against Grenada on Friday, September 17, the Belize U20 Women team had yet to register a victory in international competition, their best showing to date having been a 2-1 loss to Honduras back in 2019, and they were indeed determined to make this a “new beginning,” despite not being able to surpass group winner Suriname for a spot in the playoffs and a chance at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup 2022 in Costa Rica.
In the Grenada game on Friday, our U20 Women Jaguars unleashed all their “Girl Power,” dominating their opponents towards a 5-0 lead at halftime, and finishing as 6-1 winners over Grenada. Belize goals were by Khalydia Velasquez (4’), Alisha Terry (22’ & 42’), Shendra Casimiro (24’) and Anahie Blanco (79’) along with a Grenada own goal (61’). Grenada avoided the shutout with an 81st minute score from Shonika Phillip.
See the final Group D standings below:
The message is sent: Belize U20 Women Jaguars are no longer to be taken for granted in regional female football. Congratulations to our U20 Women Jaguars; the future is yours!
Belize U20 Women Team lineup vs Grenada: goalkeeper – Dennisha Pineda; defenders – Carlene Tillett (Jessie McLaughlyn at 70’), Shante Chacon, Mikayla Munro and Jesselle Conorque; midfielders – Tanya Teul (Janivi Quiroz at 59’), Reah Burgess (Aaliyah Herbert at 70’) and Ashley Rodriguez; and forwards – Alisha Terry (Anahie Blanco at 70’), Khalydia Velasquez and Shendra Casimiro (Shanelle Thomas at 64’). Head Coach – Wayne Casimiro; Assistant Coach – Iris Centeno.