Former Barbados captain Emmerson Boyce.

Former Barbados captain Emmerson Boyce has urged football authorities here to accelerate the development of women’s football and has collaborated with the Barbados Football Association to launch a program aimed at boosting that aspect of the sport locally.

The 41-year-old, who played professionally in England for the likes of Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace as a defender. Simultaneously, the BFA had made huge strides in the men’s game; more emphasis was needed on the women’s game, expanding globally.

“Local football has improved loads technically. The BFA is doing a magnificent job on the boys’ side of it and the men’s side of it in terms of developing players,” Boyce told local news in an interview here.

“My view now is to come and develop the women and the girls. That’s why I’ve been talking to the BFA and the ministers, and we’ve launched a program to get more and more girls into football.

“I’ve always wanted to give something back to Barbados. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a magnificent career in England, won the FA Cup, played in the Premier League against some of the best players in the world, and captained the national team.

“The BFA and [president] Randy Harris has given me the opportunity with the women’s program. I’m looking to launch my foundation next year, and it’s a case where I’m looking to develop and get more and more and more females into the football game.”

Boyce, born in England but qualified to represent the island through his Barbados-born parents, earned 12 caps before calling time on his international career four years ago.

On a visit here last week, Boyce met with football authorities, including the women’s committee, and said everyone was on the same page regarding developing the women’s side of the sport.

He was joined on his recent visit to the island by former Arsenal defender Brendon Batson, born in Grenada, and became the first black player to represent the north London club during the 1970s.

Boyce’s sister Stephanie last year became the first black deputy Vice President of the Law Society of England and is now poised to be elevated to the president next year. He said he would be drawing on her expertise to boost the women’s game in Barbados.

“The program I’m trying to bring to Barbados is just not about football; we believe in education as well. We believe in developing the whole person and giving them life skills,” Boyce explained.

“At the moment in most countries, especially in Europe, women’s football is developing so much, and I’ve seen with my own eyes how much it’s developed in England, and I’m like, why can’t it develop in Barbados and that’s what I’m trying to bring now.

“I’m bringing a lot of expertise over, asking a lot of questions, trying to open up a lot of doors. We’re going to coach the coaches; we’re going to coach the players but most importantly, keep focused on the education because I know that’s very important. 

“It’s a whole rounded project, and it’s exciting times ahead.”

Last year, Barbados qualified for this year’s CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic but failed to make it out of 16 after losing heavily to Haiti.

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