UEFA's sister confederation in North America, Central America and the Caribbean has organised a remarkably successful Girls' U-15 Championship thanks to assistance from the European body.
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UEFA, through the efforts of its women's football department and ASSIST development programme, has helped its sister confederation Concacaf to successfully stage an Under-15 girls tournament on an unprecedented scale.
The Concacaf Girls' U-15 Championship took place in the United States as a developmental milestone for the women's game in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The tournament gave invaluable experience to young players from 27 countries in the Concacaf region, who were joined for the occasion by two European teams – Portugal and Northern Ireland.
UEFA lent its expertise not only in laying organisational foundations; the European body also offered knowledge-sharing opportunities during the event and delivered key information about women's football development to representatives of the competing national associations.
The tournament, held in Bradenton, Florida between 6 and 13 August, was attended by UEFA's head of women's football Nadine Kessler. The former Germany star assumed an ambassadorial role and conducted a session on being a top-level professional in the sport.
It proved to be the largest Concacaf tournament ever held for the female game and involved a record number of Concacaf national associations.
Nadine Kessler said: "It was a privilege to be able to contribute to an event that enabled hundreds of players to access international football – thus enhancing opportunities that will serve the long-term development and growth of the women's game in the region."
The UEFA representation also included referee trios from both Serbia and Spain, and a referee instructor in the form of Dagmar Damková, who observed and put on courses for the Caribbean referees.
The UEFA ASSIST scheme is an international programme aimed at furthering football development in – and solidarity with – national associations and confederations outside Europe through the sharing of knowledge and best practice as well as the implementation of youth development tournament and infrastructure projects.
The full list of local competing teams was: USA, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, El Salvador, Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Curaçao, Saint Lucia, Bermuda, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Belize, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Anguilla, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guyana, Martinique, Panama, Saint Kitts & Nevis.
Concacaf chief of football officer Manolo Zubiria said: "Our Girls' U-15 Championship was the largest Concacaf tournament ever for female participants, featuring the participation of a record amount of our confederation's member associations and two invited teams from UEFA. We had the privilege of seeing Portugal and Northern Ireland competing with girls from our region, a unique opportunity to enable our players to gain relevant competitive experience with international teams. We witnessed great performances, while providing access to further develop the women’s game."
This third edition of the tournament was won by hosts the USA, 3-0 victors against Mexico in the final.