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Panama’s teenage goalkeeper becomes breakout star at Concacaf event, but next step isn’t clear | Soccer

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Panama's teenage goalkeeper becomes breakout star at Concacaf tournament, but next step isn't clear | Soccer


Yenith Bailey went from a complete unknown to a star in girls’s football circles within the span of per week. The Panama goalkeeper, just 17 years previous, arrived at the Concacaf Women’s Championship with most effective 2 recorded begins for the nationwide team. Now, she’s at the verge of serving to Panama to its first-ever World Cup with a place in France at the line in Wednesday’s third-place game towards Jamaica.

Even devoted WoSo mavens should be given a cross for now not having Bailey at the radar before the event began. Bailey used to be enjoying midfield at this time remaining year before Panama trainer Victor Suarez, himself a former midfielder, transformed Bailey from a box player to a goalkeeper.

“Yes, that’s true. I’ve been a goalkeeper for a year,” Bailey instructed Goal. “When you like the sport, you do what you have to.”

It used to be the suitable name. Bailey made 24 stops within the workforce degree before Suarez determined to relaxation her for Sunday’s semifinal defeat to Canada, mentioning a rotator cuff damage. Bailey may just’ve performed thru it, Suarez stated, but he sought after to verify his younger shot-stopper is at complete energy for Wednesday’s game, which appears to be like extra winnable. Not that Bailey cannot make saves towards a best team. Against the United States, she stored a game towards the most productive team on this planet a lot nearer than it most likely will have to’ve been by means of creating a dozen saves.

“Very, very impressed. I think I went over to her a couple of times to tell her how good she was,” stated Carli Lloyd, a two-time FIFA player of the year who in the end put a hat trick previous Bailey in a 5-Zero win. “She played a fantastic match, and hopefully that gives her a lot of confidence in herself.”

The self belief began with Suarez, who opted for the 17-year-old regardless of having the extra skilled Farissa Cordoba within the ranks as neatly. Suarez is main a adolescence motion with the Panama girls, hoping to construct a base for the ladies’s game in a rustic the place males’s soccer is also growing. Bailey is 1 of {seven} players at the roster of 20 who have been born in or after 2000. Only 2, 13-year-old Sheyla Diaz and 17-year-old Anuvis Angulo, are but to peer the sphere within the Concacaf event.

“I think to play in a team, it’s not about your age, but rather the athletic conditions you have. Our national team is known for players who really win their spot day-in, day-out in their training sessions,” Suarez stated. “[Bailey has] done really well, she’s stood out as you’ve seen.”

Now the query is the place Bailey is going from right here. Though Panama has began a girls’s league, Bailey’s most effective actual probability of creating it full-time in football is finding a pathway to the U.S. until there is a severe focal point at the girls’s game from the Panamanian federation. Bailey is reasonable about her long run, even though she hopes a win Wednesday may just spice up passion and funding.

“In the future I’d like to leave my country. I also have to train more,” she stated. “While we might not have what we need right now, little by little the things you hope for and the things you want can come. Our country hasn’t supported us, but now they’re supporting us more. It could be that they’re looking at the women more with the league they’re doing and I think they’ll support us more if we get through.”

It may just nonetheless be tricky for Bailey to make a next step. Several of Wednesday’s warring parties with Jamaica are enjoying at American schools, that have allowed them now not most effective to proceed to beef up as players but additionally earn school levels. But for Bailey, talking most effective Spanish is usually a barrier with universities requiring a undeniable threshold be reached on standardized checks carried out in English. While its fee construction isn’t clear, enjoying within the Panamanian league may just deliver up NCAA eligibility questions as neatly.

There were younger goalkeeping sensations before in Concacaf girls’s tournaments. Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago performed in World Cup qualification at age 16, serving to El Tri to the showpiece in Germany in 2011 the place she was the youngest goalkeeper to play in a World Cup. Santiago had spells each within the NWSL and in Europe, and now could be enjoying in Mexico’s Liga MX Femenil with Club America. Now 23, she nonetheless has time to achieve her complete attainable but is but to reside as much as the lofty expectancies set by means of her standout showings {seven} years in the past.

Karina LeBlanc, Concacaf’s Head of Women’s Football, stated the confederation is investigating the function it will probably play in bringing alongside younger ability within the area like Bailey and Santiago.

“What’s exciting is that we’re actually looking at players and seeing how we can help develop the players who are actually at the national team level but also the youth development. I think what Concacaf can do is exactly what we’re doing,” LeBlanc stated. “We’re having the conversations, we’re looking at if we can get some of these girls maybe in college. I know for her she doesn’t speak English, so NCAA there are some limitations with the SATs but we’re well aware and we’re talking through different things. Can we do things to put her as a pro? [To play in] NWSL you have to be 18 years old. Her birthday is March 29, I believe, so there’s a lot of different things but we’re having the conversation about how can we make our national teams better.”

LeBlanc, herself a former goalkeeper who has been “impressed with how courageous” Bailey has been this event, stated discussions proceed as Concacaf appears to be like to seek out a answer to groups like Panama and Jamaica going years between enjoying games.

That may just imply an expanded qualifying structure or isolating the regional championship from World Cup qualification. There are stumbling blocks, but younger Bailey is a becoming instance now not most effective of a player who extra games definitely would assist, but additionally anyone who hasn’t let the percentages being stacked towards her gradual her down. 

“It took a big effort to get here. With effort you can do everything,” Bailey stated. “We’ve trained, and we’ve gotten to this point for some reason. We can only thank God for what he’s given us.”

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