UEFA's programme to help its member associations develop and promote women's football in their countries continues apace, with the marketing of the women's game taking centre stage at a workshop in The Hague.
Within its innovative women's football development programme (WFDP), European football's governing body has answered a number of requests by national associations for assistance in how to market the women's game, and has embarked on an individual assistance scheme to help six specific associations – Scotland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Russia and Austria – draft a women's football marketing plan.
UEFA recommended that the associations focus on their top national league, building a brand identity by, for example, creating a logo for the competition, and through brand activation from perimeter boarding to social media. Clubs are also being encouraged to play an active role in the project.
The objective is to promote women's football even more intensively in associations where solid development structures are in place. Basic goals include increasing attendances at women's league matches, making the domestic league more attractive, and boosting revenue streams in the mid- to long-term future.
The associations' marketing plans should also comprise promoting the general image of women's football from grassroots to the elite level. Some may use their national teams' exposure, combined with good results and positive image, as leverage to enhance the domestic leagues, whether it be for potential sponsors or spectators.
In The Hague, the workshop looked at how the associations had been working in the nine months since the marketing project was launched. Feedback showed that several associations have finalised their plans and will begin to implement marketing activities in the near future. Association representatives were unanimous in praising UEFA for having launched the project at an opportune moment, as women's football continues to flourish.
National associations with well-established women's football marketing policies were also present in the Netherlands. UEFA invited the French Football Federation (FFF) and the German Football Association (DFB) to share their experiences and offer advice and recommendations.
In addition, the Royal Belgian Football Association (KBVB/URBSFA) and Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) gave a joint presentation on how they have set up the BeNe league. Last year, the two associations decided to merge their female top flights, with the UEFA Executive Committee giving its approval on a three-season trial basis. Their goal was to improve the sporting level by joining forces, also making the 'product' more attractive to fans and potential sponsors.
The president of the KNVB, Michael van Praag, opened the workshop by highlighting the emphasis being placed on women's football by both national associations, and stressed the potential and scope of the BeNe league project.
His fellow UEFA Executive Committee member Karen Espelund is also a firm advocate of the assistance work being undertaken. "This marketing plan project is a key step for these associations in reaching that next level, a step closer towards the professionalisation of the women's game in these countries," she said.
With associations' women's football managers and marketing managers able to meet around the same table, in some cases for the first time, the deliberations in The Hague underlined the thought and consideration that is being given to pushing women's football even further forward throughout Europe.
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