UEFA is issuing a strategic communications guide to help national associations throughout Europe promote women's football and convey messages aimed at attracting girls and women to get involved in the game.
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Women's football is flourishing throughout Europe – and in line with its drive to foster the women's game, UEFA is helping its 55 member associations to develop creative and innovative new ways of putting women's football firmly on the map.
A strategic communications guide is being issued by UEFA to help the associations establish communications plans and initiatives that not only promote the game but also increase awareness of and interest in women's football.
The project comes under the auspices of the UEFA GROW programme, which offers crucial support to the national associations in a variety of areas to help nurture football across Europe.
The guide gives the associations, leagues and clubs comprehensive advice on how to create and maintain an effective communications plan – identifying objectives, defining a strategic approach, profiling a target audience, developing key messages, creating visual and editorial styles, and establishing ways of measuring the success of the plan.
Three case studies
Case studies from national associations, clubs and individuals are included in the guide, showing how effective communication and proactive initiatives can reach wide audiences and specific target groups.
Here are three examples featuring the national associations of Georgia, Moldova and Scotland:
Georgia – creating a strategic approach
The Georgian Football Federation (GFF) has defined a clear strategic approach to promoting women's football, designed to increase the overall level of interest in women's football, make football the most followed women's sport among women in Georgia, and raise the level of interest in the Georgian women's national team.
Communications objectives centre on encouraging more women and girls to want to play football, removing cultural barriers that are preventing more women and girls from being able to play football in Georgia, and for more schools in Georgia to provide girls' football.
The association is working with third-party opinion-formers, including the media, and key "influencers" to counter negative perceptions around women's football, by reframing the conversation within the context of a "new, modern Georgia", and promoting the wider social/health benefits associated with women playing sport and, in particular, football.
The profile of women's national team players is also being strengthened, and an ambassador programme aims to help pass on positive messages.
Moldova – staging special events
Grassroots "influencer" events specifically for girls not only help to increase participation but are also an ideal way of promoting the women's game and changing its image.
From a communications perspective, such events demonstrate commitment to women's football and enable the creation of engaging content that raises awareness and encourages action.
The Football Association of Moldova (FMF) joined forces with singer, influencer and ambassador for UEFA's Together #WePlayStrong campaign, Iuliana Beregoi, for a Girls Camp Football Festival aimed at teenage girls.
Close to 1,000 participants enjoyed a fun-filled day of football activities that aimed to change perceptions, increase participation and promote a healthy lifestyle.
A special video on the Moldovan FA site conveyed the excitement of the day.
Scotland – working with sponsors
Sponsorship, as part of an organisation's commercial strategy, is key to the development of women's football.
When the Scottish energy company SSE became a title sponsor of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) Girls' Soccer Centres – aimed at attracting girls between the ages of five and 12 to the game – the association covered the news in detail.
An article on the SFA's website focused on the launch event featuring national women's team coach Shelley Kerr and national team players, as well as SSE representatives.
Scotland's hard work has been paying dividends – dozens of soccer centres for hundreds of girls are up and running across the country – and SSE has also derived significant benefit from its partnership with the SFA.
UEFA emphatically endorses its member associations' sterling efforts to transmit the joy of football to women and girls. "Women's football offers our game the most potential for growth," the UEFA guide emphasises.
"It is our priority at UEFA to help each [association] maximise the opportunities for its development."