Cuba – Strong Futsal Side
The women’s game in Cuba is also growing, with the national championship in its sixth year (it started in 2001 but was not held in the 2002 season). Curiously, it has always been won by the same team, Ciudad de la Habana, who provide the basis of the national team. The fledgling national set-up for women has been in operation for two-and-a-half years and takes in girls as young as 14. The U-20 women’s team are currently bidding for a place in the 2008 U-20 World Cup in Chile and unlike their colleagues in the senior team, they are 100 per cent footballers: ‘”The U-20 girls started out playing football, unlike the senior team, who come from an athletics background. They are more intelligent and dedicated than the men, you can see them progress from one day to the next,” says Sotolongo proudly.
Cuba’s women are already in the final qualifying round for the U-20 World Cup (beating off competition from Anguilla and Antigua & Barbuda, while Barbados did not take part). Cuba are also in the second Caribbean qualifying round for the women’s Olympic Football Tournament together with Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago. The top two teams will go through to face Canada, the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica in the final qualifying group, from which only two countries will go to Beijing, as in the men’s competition.