Jinelle James, Trinidad and Tobago’s director of the women's football, expressed delight with the recently-concluded Jewels of the Caribbean Under-17 Women’s tournament, and is expecting players to make the most of the lessons learnt from the exposure, as they continue training.

James, who is also a FIFA assistant development officer, welcomed the initiative which provided the opportunity for players to parade their skills and, by extension, continue their development.

The four-team tournament featured Trinidad and Tobago’s A and B teams, as well as Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Trinidad and Tobago’s A team led by J'Eleisha Alexander, topped the tournament, with Orielle Martin taking the best midfielder, most goals and most valuable player awards, while teammate Jasmaine Mc Nish copping the best defender prize.

“I thought the Jewels of the Caribbean U-17 Girls Tournament was a great opportunity to give the girls a chance to play without any of the pressures of a qualification tournament, and being able to play teams that are at their level competitively, and the girls are learning how to win international matches,” James said.

"In the end, some of our U-17 players showed themselves like Mc Nish, Martin, Cherina Steele and Alexander, who has had a successful campaign for the past year in the Secondary School Girls Football League and was called up to the senior women's team.

"There were others like Mariah Williams, Madison Campbell, and Ty'Kaiya Dennis, so it was basically the whole team really showing themselves and introducing themselves at this level to international football," she added.

That some Under-14 players also strutted their stuff in the tournament, was another highlight for James.

“So, it was just a good opportunity to give exposure to the young girls. They were much younger than their competitors of course, but again it's always good to put them in to see where they are at in their development and what’s needed for them to improve and prepare for the U-15 Concacaf competition next year in August,” she reasoned.

"All in all, I thought it was a good showing for the girls and hopefully we can get more opportunities for them to play in a competitive environment without the pressures of it being a qualification tournament,” James noted.

With Concacaf qualifiers in the distant future, James pointed to the need for more initiatives such as the Jewels tournament to keep players active.

"What I personally realised is that these girls don't play any football outside of coming to training, so we have to find a way to get them to play more which will help them to develop their game awareness and they will get to see the things that they are being shown in training.

“Training is only one and half hours, and it's only so much the coaches can get across to the players, and they themselves have to do some playing recreationally to learn how to check in pockets, and how and when to make runs and all,” she shared.

“So, we saw a lot of positives that we could take from this experience that the coaches will use to help prepare the team for their next encounter at the U-20 level maybe in 2025 or 2026,” James ended.

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