Westside Timbers forward Brittany Persaud (top right) is reaching out to WPSL teams in search of players eligible for the Guyana Women's National Team. [Westside Timbers]
Guyana National Team, which last played in 2016, had success in CONCACAF qualifying tournaments this decade. [Guyana Football Federation]
During the past decade, the Guyana Women’s National Team proved to be a formidable opponent for many CONCACAF foes, with the senior team qualifying for the 2010 Gold Cup and, in 2016, reaching the Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.
Yet, following the team’s 2016 Olympic Qualifying run, the nation’s football federation made the decision to put the National Women’s program on hold due to challenges securing sufficient funding for the program
Amid the global renewal of support of women’s soccer upon the success of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Guyana Women’s National Team was revived and is looking to rebuild with an exciting mixture of returning veterans and exciting young talent.
“Lack of funds has always been the reason behind our dormancy periods,” said Brittany Persaud, WPSL player for the Westside Timbers and current Guyana National Team player. “Now we have funding from the federation as well as people getting involved outside of the federation to help fundraise and build the women’s program.”
The team has a bright future, with both the U-17 and U-20 teams going undefeated through CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers and earning berths in the knockout stage. The senior team will likely infuse the returning talent with many of the young players that are beginning to star for their respective teams.
Guyana coach Ivan Joseph will be in charge of forming the most competitive roster possible.
“The U-20’s are the ones that are ready to take the next logical jump,” Joseph said. “Some of our veterans are retiring, so it’s just a natural transition. About half of our roster will turnover and provide a nice pathway for the young players to move into.”
With the infusion of youth comes a necessity for veteran leadership. Persaud will be one of the players asked to lead the young Guyanese squad into the future.
After a successful collegiate career at both the University of Dayton and Wright State University, Persaud played professionally in the Netherlands at top clubs ADO Den Haag and Telstar. This past season, she moved to Portland and played for the WPSL’s Westside Timbers.
Because of Persaud’s successful experience and the number of current and former WPSL players that earned World Cup roster spots (most notably, the United States and Jamaican teams), the Guyana Football Federation is now seeking out current WPSL players with Guyanese descent.
“We have a good core group, but we need to build our player pool,” Persaud said. “We haven’t really hit North America that much, and we know there are more players with Guyanese descent out there.”
While building a team that can become a competitive member of CONCACAF is high on the priority list for Joseph and the rest of the Guyana Football Federation, the revival of the program is about inspiring a new generation of Guyana female athletes.
“It gives them an inspirational role model and somewhere to look towards to continue their game,” Joseph said. “This is an opportunity for me to give back. I was born in this country, and the opportunity to give something back and pay forward is something I take great pride in.”
Persaud and other returning members of the Guyana National team are excited to get back on the field. Although the resurrection of the program may be only one step toward the greater development of women’s sports in Guyana, to Persaud it is a step of great significance.
“When we first started the program, women’s sports were not featured in Guyana,” Persaud said. “Ultimately this is about developing the sport in the country for the younger girls so they have something to look forward to and build to.”