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Women's football: here to stay

In his editorial column in UEFA•direct, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino hails the rise of women's football, encouraging women and girls to get involved in the game.

VfL Wolfsburg players celebrate winning the 2013/14 UEFA Women's Champions League title
VfL Wolfsburg players celebrate winning the 2013/14 UEFA Women's Champions League title ©AFP/Getty Images

When the UEFA Executive Committee decided to make what has become a six-year investment in the further development of women's football across Europe in December 2010, it was with the intention of achieving a range of positive outcomes.

The results have surpassed expectations. The HatTrick III investment in the UEFA Women's Football Development Programme – together with the individual efforts of the 54 UEFA member associations – has seen European women's football reach a new level and set new benchmarks.

But with more players participating and more leagues being established throughout Europe, women's football needs structures that can sustain and ensure the continued development of the sport. UEFA has been organising initiatives to keep up with this demand, specifically in coaching. A pilot project will be implemented with 11 UEFA member associations in 2015, to establish new UEFA B licence courses in connection with existing development tournaments to help further the recruitment and training of women coaches, just as the tournaments are nurturing the development of players, staff and referees. Not only will this help us build for the future; it will also ensure that the structures on the sidelines keep pace with the improvements in the quality of the football on the field of play.

Also, at elite level, it is a great source of satisfaction to see that new heights continue to be reached. A record 47 teams will be participating in the next UEFA European Women's Championship, competing for a place in the newly expanded 16-team UEFA Women's EURO 2017, to be staged at seven venues in the Netherlands.

There is positive news from an administrative standpoint as well, with women now playing a more active role than ever before, and further change is likely, as the Women in Football Leadership Programme is proving. Designed to identify potential women leaders and to equip them with the requisite skills to achieve their management aspirations, the initiative has provided and will continue to provide invaluable support to the increasing percentage of female staff who work at managerial level in UEFA's member associations.

This topic will remain at the top of UEFA's list of priorities. All women and girls are encouraged to play or to get involved in the sport in other ways. Make no mistake, women's football is here to stay.