In mid-August, the first nationwide women's league was launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Eight teams are participating: five from the Football Association of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FF F BiH) – WFC SFK 2000 Sarajevo, ŽNK Zenica Čelik, ŽNK Gradina Srebrenik, ŽNK Salt City Tuzla and ŽNK Mladost Nević Polje – and three from the Football Association of Republika Srpska Bosnia and Herzegovina (FF RS BiH) – Banja Luka, Radnik Bumurang (from Bijeljina) and Mladost Novi Grad (from Bosanski Novi).
Sides will play each other twice in a total of 14 rounds, with the season running from autumn to spring. Until now, the two regional entities have had their own divisions, with the national champion being determined by a final tournament contested by two clubs from the FF F BiH and one from the FF RS BiH.
By launching the nationwide league, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Football Federation (NFSBiH) has complied with requirements imposed by UEFA and FIFA and carried out the instructions of its general assembly.
The new competitive structure for women's football in Bosnia and Herzegovina will help to make it more popular and improve quality, as well as increasing competition at all levels. Thus far, SFK 2000 Sarajevo have had the most success, being crowned champions 14 times in a row. They will again be one of the title favourites this year, but it will certainly be more difficult than in previous seasons.
SFK 2000 Sarajevo last month hosted a mini-tournament in the UEFA Women's Champions League qualifying round. They finished second in Group 1, behind Konak Belediyespor. They beat Welsh team Cardiff City FC 3-0 and Bulgaria's FC NSA Sofia 3-2, before losing 2-1 to the side from Turkey.
Elsewhere, the NFSBiH has launched its Open Door project, which monitors talented footballers of Bosnian and Herzegovinian origin who live abroad but would be eligible to play for the country's national teams. The project's first camp was held on 16 August in Solvesborg, Sweden.
"This project was conceived to allow a large number of people based throughout Europe – people who feel they are citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and love their country – to have the opportunity to demonstrate their football ability. It also allows our selectors to choose the best players at this moment in time from across the diaspora," said Denijal Pirić, technical director at the NFSBiH.
The Open Door initiative is derived from the NFSBiH's development strategy. The project is divided into two parts, with the first covering the Nordic and Scandinavian countries: Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Coordinator Murat Jaha attended the first camp alongside youth team selectors Toni Karačić, Sakib Malkočević and Zoran Erbez, picking around 75 promising boys of different ages. Part two will involve a selection camp in Munich featuring players from territories in central Europe.
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