Women's football and how to promote it is a key component of Women's Competitions, the second edition of an annual UEFA publication which covers the European women's football sector and focuses on the various elements that are helping the female game to flourish across the continent.
"The drive to nurture women's football goes on apace across Europe," says UEFA President Michel Platini in his foreword, "with UEFA and its national associations working hand in hand to build solid infrastructures and attract more women and girls to the game in a variety of capacities.
"UEFA, associations and clubs are also working tirelessly," Mr Platini adds, "to convince more and more people to come to the stadiums to watch women's matches, in particular by implementing effective and imaginative marketing strategies."
The history of women's football and its origins are fascinating – the publication examines why and how the women's game started. "The sport has no continuous history," the article states, "because it frequently had to hide itself to survive. And because it lacked proper organisation for so long, records and historical details are hard to find. The line is dotted and sporadic."
Evidence suggests that women have been playing ball games as long as men, with some saying that women played games resembling football in 12th-century France – while in the 17th century, teams of married women are said to have taken on teams of unmarried women in matches in Scotland. Using these historical pointers as a basis, the piece identifies key moments in time that have marked the female game, and how the sector has blossomed to the stage where the future has endlessly encouraging possibilities.
UEFA Women's EURO 2013 in Sweden was a magnificent spectacle, and Sweden's Susanne Erlandsson – first vice-chairwomen of the UEFA Women's Football Committee – talks about the tournament and the boom in the sport throughout Europe. And, with bidding under way for the 2017 final tournament, Swedish Football Association (SvFF) commercial and host city manager Maria af Geijerstam discusses the community involvement activities which made the 2013 finals a fun event as well as a footballing triumph.
Women's football's progress is being helped by the presence of UEFA ambassadors – including legendary women's players – and their role in promoting the game is highlighted in the current edition.
Recent competitions come under the spotlight. This year's UEFA Women's Champions League final in Lisbon was not only a blockbuster on the field – Germany's VfL Wolfsburg winning an epic seven-goal thriller against Swedish opponents Tyresö FF – but UEFA's promotions and marketing team arranged groundbreaking activities to advertise the match and drive ticket sales. UEFA senior marketing activities manager Adrian Wells lends an insight into the comprehensive work undertaken in this respect. A review of the final itself complements the coverage of an exciting occasion.
The European women's youth final rounds in England (WU17) and Wales and Norway (WU19) offered a window through which to view the stars of tomorrow, and the respective competitions are given a full analysis, along with a focus on the marketing and promotional work done by the three host associations and how they met various targets set to make the tournaments a public and media success.
UEFA launched its international development tournaments in 2012, with the objective of affording WU16 players an early taste of top-level action on their career paths towards participation in European competitions. The initiative has borne handsome fruit, with the tournaments becoming established fixtures on the UEFA calendar. Women's Competitions examines their growth and how they are providing an invaluable contribution to young players' personal and playing development.
Finally, top Angolan R&B artist Anselmo Ralph performed at May's UEFA Women's Champions League final in Lisbon. Hugely popular in Portugal, he gives his thoughts on performing at the final, his advice to the players and who has inspired him in his career.
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