Technical Director for the Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association (TCIFA) Programme, Andrew Edwards, is anticipating that the new Concacaf W format will foster growth for local football.
In an interview with the Concacaf media arm, Edwards pointed that the TCI refuses to be defined by its smaller size, but rather by the big dreams and aspirations it has for its women’s football program.
The revamped Concacaf W pillar is geared towards opening doors for member associations to grow and develop in unprecedented ways.
“I do like the new Concacaf W format, as it gives us the opportunity to play at least four games [Concacaf W Championship Qualifying],” Edwards said. “In the past, we would probably play only one country home and away, but this new format is a step in the right direction.”
He added: “Overall, I think it is a good format and one that definitely puts us on the platform to grow and to be able to measure ourselves across the length and breadth of Concacaf.”
The TCI women will kick-start their campaign to qualify for important global tournaments when they contest Group F of the Concacaf W Championship Qualifiers against Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Dominica.
Edwards, a Jamaican, says the revised configuration of women’s football in the 41-member Confederation will give the perceived smaller nations the chance to close the gap on those with considered pedigree.
“Naturally, the gap between countries will be significantly exposed, but over time smaller countries will be ale to close that gap if they consistently prepare and develop their football internally,” said Edwards.
“It’s a new [initiative] by the new Concacaf administration to ensure that the smaller nations get the opportunity to play as many games as possible and that will certainly aid the development,” He continued.
Edwards said that like other nations hungry for opportunities in the women’s game, TCI welcomes the recalibrated Concacaf W ecosystem with a breath of optimism.
“The Turks and Caicos Islands are certainly excited by the new format. We are excited more so that there are more resources available to us to invest in women’s football,” he said.
The experienced tactician, who leads a cadre of young and promising local and regional coaches in the TCI, says the players are excited at the prospects of high-quality competition.
Additionally, Edwards asserted that it is the plan of the TCI to claim the new opportunities with both hands.
“Presently, women’s football in the Turks and Caicos Islands is not strong, but we are growing and we are building the project and we will be going into every single game with the intention to win and to give it our very best performance.
“For us, we have a very young team which comprises a mix of senior and young players. We even have players in this program as young as 13 years old, and now it’s really about measuring how much progress we are making and developing the younger ones to become the stalwarts of the future,” Edwards shared.
The first phase of the Concacaf W cycle begins with the FIFA Women's match windows of November 2021 and April 2022, which will serve as the preliminary round of the 2022 Concacaf W Championship.
This phase will include 30 Concacaf nations --ranked three and below in the FIFA women's ranking as of July 2021 -- divided into six groups of five.
After group stage play, in which each nation will play two matches at home and two away, the top finisher in each of the groups will advance to the Concacaf W Championship, joining the top two ranked teams the United States and Canada, who received byes.
For the Concacaf W Championship, the U.S., Canada and the six group winners from the qualifiers will be divided into two groups of four teams.
After group stage play, the top two finishers in each group will qualify for the competition's semi-finals and guarantee their place in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Additionally, both group stage third-place finishers will advance to a FIFA Women's World Cup Intercontinental playoff.
At the conclusion of the event, the winning nation will guarantee its place in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup. The runners-up and the third-place team will progress to a Concacaf Olympic play-in series to be played in September 2023. The winners of the play-in will also guarantee their place in Paris and the Gold Cup.
Qualifying for the Gold Cup will begin after the FIFA Women's World Cup.