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“Sky the limit” for Fijian women’s football

Lockington came back to the Fiji FA in the middle of 2013 and has already noted a marked improvement in the attention her member association is giving to women’s football.
“This year what we’re looking for is improvement. The only way up for island countries is grassroots development. This year we are targeting primary schools at the the under 14 level. We’re having more football festivals to attract young girls and women to play the sport.
“Last year we made history with our secondary school U-17 tournament and its going to continue again this year,” she says.
Lockington says the commitment and support of the Fiji FA has been an important feature in the growth of women’s football in her country which for years took some convincing of its merits.
“The new Fiji FA President Rajesh Patel has been very supportive of women’s football in our country. It has been easygoing when it comes to budgets and planning compared to how it has been in the past.
“The Fiji FA President is young, has new ideas and he’s willing to listen to us and helping us to move forward, especially when it comes to women’s football,” she says.
With men’s football rich with potential and talent, Lockington says the same applies for Fijian women wishing to emulate their male counterparts by being competitive on the international stage.
“We believe Fiji has female players with the height and calibre to play football. The last two South Pacific Games tournaments the Fiji women’s team has won the bronze medal and the sky is our limit.
“Our under 15s are also looking good. We had some outstanding performances in the U-15 Ultimate Sports tournament back in December and that turned heads for Fiji FA and many male officials,” she says.
The notable upturn in fortunes has not only caught administrators attention, but also that of the men’s national team.
“Juan Carlos Buzzetti, Fiji’s national team men’s coach, was very impressed by what he saw and he understands that we can produce that talent. After the results we showed in the U-15 Ultimate Sports tournament the Fiji FA have become very willing to support us,” she adds.
Lockington, in attendance at the FIFA and English FA Youth Women’s National Team Coaches workshop in Auckland this week, smiles when she shares her long term hopes for women’s football in Fiji.
“We would love to win gold at the South Pacific Games one day and we’d like the chance to meet New Zealand.
“New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are our big rivals. But we have beaten Papua New Guinea in 2003. Bu our target remains New Zealand,” she says.
The FIFA and English FA Youth Women’s National Team Coaches workshop ends on Sunday 26 January.

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