—- FIFA executive committee member Sonia Bien-Amie has become one of only two female presidents currently heading their national federations, the other is Sierra Leone’s Isha Johansen.
Bien-Aime was elected president at the Turks & Caicos Islands Football Association (TCIFA) at the association’s AGM earlier this week.
She has been general secretary of the TCIFA for the past eight years. Bien-Aime has had a rapid rise through the international football administration ranks and is very much part of the new face of CONCACAF that president Jeff Webb is building.CONCACAF has been a champion of women’s football with Costa Rica having hosted the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup earlier this year and Canada hosting the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup next month and the full FIFA Women’s World Cup next year
“Women’s football is progressing gradually,” said Bien-Amie, “we always want it to be faster but we are seeing a lot more interest in the game, especially in the Caribbean. The CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup had 20 teams register. Although a couple had to pull out for non-football reasons, we have never seen that level of participation before. This was also the first time we played grouped games in a tournament format rather home and away
“We are seeing more female referees and increasing numbers of women registering to play. We are also seeing increasing numbers of male football administrators reaching out to get involved.”TCIFA hosted one of the groups in the CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup.
“This was the first time we have ever hosted. It was a test run for our association. We have shied away (from hosting) over the years as people felt we were not really there yet. We may be small but we proved we can do it properly and prove to our sponsors and the public we should be involved. I hope this will be the first of many here,” said Bien-Aime
The next month will be busy for Bien-Aime. She heads to Canada for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup early August, then to the Cayman Islands for the CONCACAF U15 girls semi-finals and final, before returning to Canada for the close of the U20s World Cup.As a member of the organising committee of the U20 World Cup she says that preparations have gone well but expresses caution over a venue issue with the opening game in Toronto that needs to be solved.
Bien-Aime is also on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Organising Committee for the 2015 championship in Canada.As well as her FIFA committee roles and new presidency of the TCIFA, Bien-Aime was the first woman to take a position on the CONCACAF Executive Committee. It was CONCACAF’s Webb who nominated her for FIFA’s executive committee.
“I did that because I know that her growth and her development, and what she stands for as an individual,” said Webb.”We went through a storm, Caribbean football. A storm that faced our union, that faced our confederation – 41 Members of CONCACAF just two years ago. Sonia of course is one of the pillars, one of the strong individuals along with President Gordon (Derrick), Damian Hughes – who have taken the mantle of Caribbean football and CONCACAF football, and lead by example.”
What next for TCIFA? World Cup qualification?
“First of all we would need to increase our population,” Bien-Aime laughs. “We are running a grassroots programme. Our focus is on developing our U15 national teams and our U17s. They are now starting to look good.”Later this year TCIFA inaugurates its second Goal project, a programme that Bien-Aime says has been vital in providing the infrastructure and support to progress the game on the islands.