England's Football Association (FA) has committed to five years of investment in the women's game with national coach Hope Powell stating the ambition of replacing Germany as the "leading nation".
Their 'Game Changer' strategy intends to build on the recent advance of the female sport in England, who reached the UEFA Women's EURO 2009 final and now have a two-year-old semi-professional league, the FA WSL. As part of the scheme the FA will have a separate commercial programme for women's football, will aim to secure more broadcast coverage with the rights separated from the men's game, will expand the FA WSL to include a second division, and will grow participation.
The strategy document states: "We want women's football to become the second-largest team sport after men's football by 2018 based on independent Sport England research, with 253,600 women playing football each month (currently fourth behind men's football, cricket and rugby)."
FA chairman David Bernstein said: "Women's football is the area with the most potential for growth in the nation's favourite game. We are determined to lead that development at every level and have created a robust plan for doing so using all our resources and knowledge."
An elite performance unit will be set up and a head of elite development appointed, and Powell said: "The elite performance unit will make sure our best talent gets to the top, it's about commercial deals for the women's game, it's about participation, it's about growing the game. It's about all those things we need to make sure the women's game reaches the levels we want it to reach.
"For me, I don’t see why we can't be the leading nation in women's football. We look at Germany and what they are doing and if I had to pick a leading nation it would definitely be Germany. For us this is a starting point and I'm hoping down the line we can be the leading nation."
London will stage the UEFA Women's Champions League final for the second time in three years next May, and in 2014 England hosts the first UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship to consist of eight teams.
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