Ivan Joseph de Laurier coaches Guyana senior women’s soccer team for 2022 Concacaf World Cup qualifiers

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Ivan Joseph is not one to shy away from a challenge.

In addition to his roles as Wilfrid Laurier University Vice-Rector for Student Affairsmotivational speaker, author and trusted coach, Joseph is the volunteer head coach of Guyana senior women’s national football teamthe Lady Jags.

The Lady Jags are part of the Guyana Football Federation, which competes internationally as a member of concacaf – the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Football. Concacaf is one of the six continental confederations of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA.

Joseph and the Lady Jags are among 30 senior women’s national teams currently competing in the Concacaf Women’s Qualifierswhich take place from February 16 to 22 and April 6 to 12, 2022 in member countries around the world. Participating teams are divided into six groups of five, with each team playing two matches in the qualifying rounds in February and April.

Guyana are currently top of Group F after defeating Dominica 4-1 on February 16 and the Turks and Caicos 7-0 on February 19 in the Turks and Caicos. The team returns to Guyana in April, when they must defeat visiting Nicaragua to qualify for a game against Trinidad and Tobago, the top seed in the Concacaf Women’s Qualifiers. The winners of each of the six groups qualify for the 2022 Concacaf Women’s Championship, which will take place in July and August 2023 in Australia.

“Coaching is in my blood” said Joseph. “Working with the Lady Jags is an opportunity for me to give back to my homeland as well as to advance my beliefs in fairness, which I hold dearly.”

Joseph was born in Guyana but moved to Canada with his family when he was five years old. He coached football — or soccer, as it’s known in North America — in previous roles at Graceland University in Iowa and Ryerson University in Toronto, leading his teams to national championships. and winning prestigious coaching awards.

Joseph took on the role of head coach of Guyana’s senior women’s team in 2018 at the request of a Guyanese-born player on the women’s varsity soccer team at Ryerson University, where Joseph coached in addition to being athletic director.

“The Guyana women’s team had lost their coach due to extenuating circumstances and were in a difficult situation,” explains Joseph. “Women’s sports, especially in the Caribbean, are often forgotten as an afterthought. There is no budget or resources, so I took the team as an act of service.

Guyana Team

Joseph uses his vacation days to travel to team training camps and pays for his expenses out of pocket.

The Guyanese women’s soccer program formed in 2009 and made history the following year, qualifying for the 2010 Concacaf Gold Cup in Mexico. However, many of the players who made up Guyana’s Gold Cup roster were foreign players and lived elsewhere, making it difficult to cultivate a successful women’s football program with domestic players.

Members of Guyana’s national football teams must be of Guyanese descent but are not required to live in Guyana or be born there.

Most of the Lady Jags on Joseph’s list live outside of Guyana, have full-time careers, are in the military, or attend college. They train on their own using player development notes created by Joseph and the rest of the team’s coaching staff – largely made up of his former coaching colleagues from Graceland and Ryerson universities.

While Joseph says he would like to see the team win their April games and qualify for the World Cup, his efforts are focused on longer-term goals.

“What we’re really trying to do is inspire a nation,” says Joseph. “Female athletes in Guyana don’t have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, so a lot of our work is representing, modeling and trying to inspire young women to believe in themselves and to believe in opportunities beyond what society could see for them.”

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