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Gibraltar’s women in superb performance against Belgium

In their first competitive futsal international, Gibraltar’s Women’s National Team put in a superb performance against Belgium, only being denied on penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time.

After Kazakhstan’s withdrawal from the group due to not being able to travel to Gibraltar, yesterday’s match became a one-off knock-out match to see who qualified to the Main Qualifying Round of the Women’s Futsal Euro qualifiers. Originally due to be played last May, but rescheduled for this year, Gibraltar’s women’s national team had prepared for over a year for this historic encounter – their first competitive international in futsal, and a youthful team took to the court to face Belgium.

The team all put in great performances, but it would be two Robba’s – twin sisters Caitlin and Shania, who would shine most in Gibraltar’s performance at both ends of the court. Caitlin, who started in goal, was kept busy throughout by Belgium, and on numerous occasions came to Gib’s rescue, including saving a penalty in the final minutes of regular time, while Shania twice scored for Gib, taking the game firstly to extra time and then to penalties.

Despite starting off well, Gibraltar would find themselves 2-0 down inside five minutes, with Tine Van Roie and Pauline Tauquet scoring for the visitors. However, this setback would not halt Gibraltar’s progression, and halfway through the first half, they would get a goal back as Tiffany Viagas, after good play from Robba in attack, halved the deficit and got Gibraltar’s first ever competitive women’s futsal goal.

From that point on, Gibraltar kept on creating chances, spurred on by a capacity Tercentenary Sports Hall crowd which would prove to be one of, if not the biggest crowd seen this year at either a men’s or women’s match. They were then rewarded with an equaliser early in the second half – after Gib caught Belgium on the counter, Robba scored when one-on-one with Zelie Lambert to level the scores. This spurred on Belgium, who began to control possession, but could not find a way past Robba in the Gib goal.

Gibraltar then thought they had won it in the final seconds of the game, when a deflected corner had looked to have crossed the line, only for the Belgian defender to have been called to clear it in time – she took out the goal with her such was the close call, and despite replays seemingly showing the ball had crossed the line, such close margins would be the reason the game went to extra time.

In extra time, Van Roie would put Belgium ahead in the first half, but despite the set-back, Gib fought back, and Robba got her second, and Gib’s third of the evening, soon after to tie the scores once again. Both sides pushed for the win but could not find it, and the game went to penalties, which Belgium went on to win 5-4 – denying Gib what could fairly have been called a deserved victory, however for manager Gayle Langtry and her coaching staff, there is no doubt that they would have been immensely proud of their young team – 7 of their 12-women squad were under the age of 20, and all signs point to a bright future for Gibraltar’s women in the sport.

Lineups:

Gibraltar: C. Robba; Garcia, S. Robba, Viagas, Borrell

Subs: Revagliatte, Ferro, Neale, Salah El-Din, Holt, Victor, Mascarenhas-Olivero

Belgium: Lambert; Courtois, Deneire, Van Roie, Wijns

Subs: Suet, Meeuwis, Godier, Taquet, Taillieu, Meyers, Rosala

Yellow Cards: Viagas; Rosala

Red Cards: None

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All football activity suspended until further notice

After the recent announcement that Gibraltar was to be placed in a National Lockdown, the Gibraltar FA confirmed today that all football activity is to be suspended until further notice.

Photo (C) William Gracia

The National League, Intermediate League, Women’s League and Futsal were meant to continue or commence in 2021, but after last weekend’s announcement of a National Lockdown being implemented in Gibraltar, local football has inevitably and understandably been halted.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA say: “Following Public Health Health Guidelines and in line with the restrictions in place across Gibraltar as a result of the recently announced National Lockdown, the Gibraltar FA confirms that all football activity is currently suspended until further notice.

As such, the Gibraltar National League will not restart on the 12th January 2021 as originally scheduled, and unfortunately the Women’s League will also be unable to restart. 

The Gibraltar FA will continue working very closely with Public Heath Gibraltar, and the GSLA, to ensure that football can return as soon as it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, the Association echoes the message of the Chief Minister of Gibraltar and Public Health, to stay at home as much as possible, and adhere to all advice in order to help stop this wave of Coronavirus spreading throughout our community, and support all our authorities and front line workers working tirelessly day in day out to keep us safe.”

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Laguea: “We are very happy at our new club”

FG caught up with Isabella Laguea to talk about her time at Lincoln Women, life at her new club Lynx and more.

Laguea summed up her time at Lincoln, “I had a very good experience at Lincoln from start to finish. We started as a new team back in 2014 and since then we managed to win four consecutive league titles.

The new Lynx team is mainly made up of players continuing from last season’s Lincoln side like Alexandra Holt and Naomi Victor, just to name a few – we asked her how she’s found life at her new club – “We were aware that Lynx had been trying to find a women’s team for several years so we decided it was the best move for us. Lynx have welcomed us with open arms, and we are happy at our new club.

* Lynx Women lost their opening game to Lions 3-0 but will be hoping for three points tomorrow when they take on Europa – we asked Isabella how preparations have gone for the game, “The team only got together 2 weeks ago. We managed to have a training session before the game against Lions, but we obviously needed much more time playing as a team to get used to each other. We have since then looked back at certain things that needed improving since our last game and we hope that it can reflect in our game against Europa.

Bella gave us an insight into what she hopes to achieve this season, “This year I hope we can give some competition to both teams throughout the league. We have many new players which haven’t played in the woman’s league before so my main aim is to make them feel comfortable when playing and to improve as much as they can as a player.

* = due to the new GoG covid restrictions – it is yet to be confirmed if the match will be going ahead

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Lions Women get off to perfect start

Lions Women have got their league campaign off to the perfect start by winning their first two games against Europa and Lynx.

Women’s football was finally given the green light to begin their season after Covid restrictions. The big talking point was reigning champions Lincoln Red Imps pulling out the league and being replaced by Lynx.

Lions beat Europa 2-0 in the season opener with Kayleigh Ferro and 15-year old Mollie Karp getting the goals. It is refreshing to see so many young girls playing, 14-year old Sarah Popham being the youngest in the Europa team.

Managed by Janssen Olivero and Adrian Parral, Lions secured their second straight win yesterday with a 3-0 win over new side Lynx. A brace from Joelle Gilbert and one by Mollie Karp made sure their 100% record stayed intact.

The next women’s game is on Tuesday 22nd December between Lynx & Europa at 18:15.

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Revagliatte and Doody to sign for ADC Esteponense

Gibraltar International duo Kyrelle Revagliatte and Keshia Doody are close to signing for ADC Esteponense from Lions Gibraltar.

Kyrelle and Keshia will be part of the newly formed women’s team which will take part in the 2020-2021 season for the first time in its 13-year history. A huge milestone for Women’s Football in Gibraltar which continues to grow and will be the start of more women following them to play abroad.

Captain and vice-captain at both domestic and international level, this move is a massive milestone for Women’s football to see it is going in the right direction with interest coming from abroad.

Kyrelle has previous experience from playing in Spain with CD Salesianos in 2016 while Keshia has been a long-time servant of Lions – a big loss for the club.

A promising move which will hopefully lead the way for more women like Tiffany Viagas, Shania Robba & others to follow suit and try their luck outside of Gibraltar.

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Doody: “We will be back and we will be ready”

FG caught up with Lions Womens’ and Gibraltar’s Keshia Doody to talk about the season so far, the teams reaction to the postponement of the Womens Futsal Euro qualifiers, which were due to be held in Gib, and more.

Photo © Neil Wilson (Black & Burst Photography)

We firstly asked for her thoughts on how Lions Womens’ season had gone so far “Well before lockdown, our season had already ended with Lincoln being crowned champions. I personally don’t think we had a bad season overall but, it also wasn’t our best one. We’ve had a few changes to the squad bringing up younger players which I know they will be great assets to the team for the upcoming seasons. Us lionesses always give 100% in what we do, so I have faith we’ll be back stronger next season.

I would like to take the chance to congratulate Lincoln ladies for their title once again.”

Gibraltar were set to face Belgium and Kazakhstan in the Women’s Futsal Euro Qualifiers, in a week’s time, with Doody set to be part of that squad – were the team disappointed when the lockdown inevitably led to the qualifiers being postponed? “I think more than disappointed, we’re gutted about it. When we heard Gibraltar had been put down for the draw we were over the moon, at first it didn’t seem real as we had been waiting for this opportunity for years. The squad had already been training very hard for the past months due to having the friendly international matches over in Northern Ireland early in January which had been planned as a lead up to the upcoming Euros. So when the pandemic occurred, we couldn’t believe how close but far away our dream was.

Luckily we are all managing to stay positive about this and just waiting patiently for the time to come. Like I’ve already said to them before, we’ve waited countless of years for this opportunity, so I guess we can wait a further few months. Our health and the rest of the community’s health & safety comes first.”

With lockdown approaching two months now, we asked how the Lions Womens’ captain has approached keeping up fitness during this time: “Personally I have found it hard as I am very much a team player and don’t motivate myself to train alone. Luckily my partner is into cycling so I have been doing Gib rides as much as possible accompanied by him and motivated by him when I’ve not been at work. We have also been provided with a workout program by the GFA to do at home which I am also doing At least 3 times a week. That way I/we are as ready as possible for when we begin to get ready for the Euros once again.”

Finally, we asked Doody for her goals for the rest of 2020: “If football returns which I hope it does, my overall goal is to maintain my fitness, train hard with the girls/ squad & get back to routine with all of them. Locally my goal would have to be in winning the Rock Cup & Futsal league (*note – this interview took place before the announcement of the domestic season being terminated) and last but not least internationally my goal would be to make sure we are as ready as we can be to perform at our best at International Level when the opportunity arises again. Hopefully we will still be hosts in our homeland and make ourselves and Gibraltar proud. We will be back and we will be ready.”

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Robba: “Our hard work throughout the season has once again paid off”

FG caught up with 18-year old Shania Robba to get her thoughts on Lincoln retaining the Women’s title, Women’s international Futsal and more.

Lincoln Red Imps Women retained the league last week with a 2-1 win over Europa – we asked Shania how it felt retaining the title, “It feels amazing to retain the league title for the fourth time in a row with Lincoln, we have a group of very talented and young players. Our hard work throughout the season has once again paid off.”

Shania is currently the top goalscorer of the league with 13 goals – we asked her to reflect on her season so far, “I’d like to think that my season so far has gone well, scoring goals and contributing to Lincoln’s successes is a good sign of my performances thus far into the season. A slight injury set back has prevented myself from playing the last few matches, although I will definitely be back soon and would like to continue to achieve results not only in club football but representing Gibraltar in the upcoming Futsal Euro Qualifiers held in May.”

Shania was part of the Women’s Futsal squad which went away to play Northern Ireland last month – we asked her how the weekend of friendlies went, “I feel that our recent international futsal friendlies in Northern Ireland definitely showed our potential as a squad. Although our first performance lacked that composure on the ball and our nerves were evident on the court, the second game we fought till the very end, creating a significant amount of goal-scoring opportunities and showed that we can challenge such nations in futsal.”

The Gibraltar FA recently announced that Gibraltar’s Women’s National Futsal team will take part in competitive International football, this year, as UEFA have confirmed their participation in the Women’s Futsal European Championships – we asked how she feels about the news, “It’s brilliant news! This incredible opportunity will not only allow this very capable squad of showing our full potential in front of our own home nation, but it will also contribute to the rise of women’s football and futsal, encouraging more young girls to begin to play the sport which will only create more opportunities for Women’s football and futsal in the upcoming years.”

At just 18-years old, Shania Robba is proving to be one of the Gibraltar Women’s top performers whether it be Football or Futsal – we asked her what her goals are for the future, “Next year I will be going to university so my main goal is to get into a university team and showcase my potential in the UK, I will take every opportunity that comes my way to improve my football and play with the highest level of athletes. Another aim is to continue to represent Gibraltar in football and futsal for many more years, however, my main ambition is to play professional football.”

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Victor goal secures Women’s title for Lincoln

Lincoln Red Imps women’s side won the 2019/20 Women’s League, as Naomi Victor’s winner saw them beat Europa 2-1, to take an unassailable lead at the top of the table.

Photo © Neil Wilson/Lincoln Red Imps

Going into the game, Lincoln knew they needed 2 points from their remaining three games to secure the title, but they would have wanted to wrap it up against a Europa side who have yet to get a point this season. Despite this, Europa made their opponents work for their success, as Susana Mudarra Maldonado put her side 1-0 up after 21 minutes.

Lincoln were not to be deterred though, and after Laura Cortes-Minan equalised early in the second half, Victor got Lincoln’s second, which would prove to be the title-winning goal, retaining the title which they won last year by four points from Lions – also their closest challengers in the three-team division this time out.

Lincoln were congratulated post-match by the official UEFA Women’s Champions League Twitter account – while Gibraltar have yet to enter a team into the tournament since joining UEFA, there is no confirmation yet as to whether this may or may not change this year, with Gibraltar included in the provisional access list should they choose to enter Lincoln into the qualifying round of the tournament.

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Viagas: “We need help from the association to get allocations in order to keep on improving”

We caught up with Lincoln Red Imps Women’s captain Tiffany Viagas to get her thoughts on her sides recent win over Lions, the development of Women’s football over the years and more.

Lincoln maintained their 100% start to the Women’s League with a 4-2 win over Lions – Tiffany reflected on her team’s performance, “The team put in a strong performance against a tough side. Our quick passing and movement off the ball made us a threat going forward, creating numerous chances in the opposition’s box. The whole team worked hard throughout the game, which saw our efforts rewarded with the 3 points, giving us a 6 point lead at the top of the league. However, the result was overshadowed with the injury of our player Shania. I hope she recovers soon!”

We asked Tiffany how she’s felt Women’s Football has developed over the years, “Over the past years, women’s football in Gibraltar is becoming more popular in the younger age groups. The Under 16s national team came second out of four teams at a development tournament in Malta, which saw them win against Albania (3-0) and a draw against Andorra (1–1). There is definitely a bright future ahead for the national team and for the women’s league but we need help from the association to get allocations in order to keep on improving and keep players motivated.”

We asked Tiffany what she would like to see in Women’s Football for the game to continue to improve, “I would like to see other clubs in the men’s premier division putting out a team in the women’s league. This way we can get more women involved in the game and making the league more exciting for all teams involved. I would also like to see the senior national team going to participate in competitions such as the Euro Qualifiers as I believe we have a strong and hard-working team and showed in our previous tournament at the Island Games that we are no pushover.”

Tiffany gave us an insight into how her trial with FC Twente Vrouwen went last summer, “My week’s trial at FC Twente was a dream come true. Shania and I trained for a week with the Eredivise champions, where we trained with Dutch national team players. We would train once or twice a day, and we worked on different aspects of the game. We also played a match with FC Twente against German side Borussia Bocholt, where we were able to make a good account for ourselves. Shania and I both received very positive feedback from the head coach and a return to the club is very close by. The experience was amazing and I learned a lot during my time there. I would like to thank Bennie Brinkman for making this possible.”

Finally, we asked Tiffany what her aims are for football – “My aim is to keep working hard and to hopefully turn my dream into a reality which is to play football aboard at a professional club and keep representing and giving it my best when playing for the national team.”

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All Lion final for Juan Chipol Cup

It will be an all Lions final this evening as Lions Black take on Lions Orange for the Juan Chipol Cup at 19:30 in the Old Sports Hall.

Lions Black team: Andrya Rowbottom, Joelle Gilbert, Kathy Rocca, Nadine Rodriguez, Paris Chelleram, Zamara Espinosa, Zara Jan Lopez, Zoe Ballantine.

Lions Orange team: Abigail Evans, Alba Martin, Josie Cummings, Kayleigh Ferro, Keshia Doody, Kyrelle Revagliatte, Mollie Karp, Reighann Olivero.

Lions Black went undefeated in Group 2 to progress into the final with Joelle Gilbert scoring in both games while Lions Orange saw themselves come from behind to beat Lincoln FC courtesy of goals from Josie Cummings and Reighann Olivero and won their first game in Group 1, goals from Alba Martin, Keshia Doody, Reighann Olivero and a Kayleigh Ferro brace.

Lions president Alex Grech spoke about how good it was to have the final between both Lions teams, saying it is a: “great achievement, and it shows how serious the club takes the ladies football. Furthermore, with our qualified coaches Jansen Olivero and Chris Ward continuously working and putting the hours for their development.”