UEFA and its member associations have made remarkable strides in supporting and promoting women's football projects across the globe.
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As the FIFA Women's World Cup takes centre stage in Australia and New Zealand this month, the influence of women's football worldwide continues to grow. UEFA's dedication to developing the game goes beyond its European borders, supporting sister confederations' development projects through the UEFA Assist programme.
Thanks to UEFA's ongoing collaboration with CONMEBOL, Assist has made a significant impact in South America, with dedicated events in Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. More than 250 women have attended these workshops, focusing on developing women both on and off the pitch and enhancing the governance and structure of women's football in each country.
Below, we look at the positive impact the programme has had on women's football elsewhere in the world since its inception back in 2017, focusing on some of the key joint projects between football federations:
The English FA has hosted online seminars focusing on women's football development in Australia ahead of the World Cup. The positive impact from this initiative extended beyond knowledge-sharing, as the remaining funds were invested in purchasing much-needed equipment, laying the groundwork for future stars to emerge and thrive.
The Danish Football Association (DBU) has been contributing to the development of football in Guyana since 2019. As well as organising ambassador trips and referee schemes, the DBU has funded vital equipment that has supported the growth of Guyana's women's league, a 37-team tournament that lasts for six months each season.
Jesper Møller, DBU president:
"We are delighted to assist in developing football in other parts of the world. During this bilateral project with the Guyana Football Federation we have worked with improving conditions for girls and women, so even more people can get involved in the game."
In Japan, UEFA has introduced diverse programmes focusing on women's football and coach education. Drawing on best practices from Germany, England and Finland, UEFA's experts have helped to develop the Japanese S license, which sets the standard for coaching in the country.
Jordan and Qatar
The German Football Association (DFB) developed the Future Leaders in Football (FLF) programme, helping women working within the sport to improve their knowledge, develop strategies for overcoming different challenges and be empowered to drive social change within their organisations. Attendees came from all over the world to the events, staged shortly before the men's World Cup in Qatar.
FLF participant Fatima Zahra Benfares, from Morocco:
"It was the first time I took part in a workshop that was exclusively for women. I didn't know what to expect but I was so overwhelmed by the support and sense of female community in this group. It was so touching for me to realise that we all face similar challenges, and we can all relate to each other's experiences in one way or another. This community, which I am sure will accompany me for the rest of my life, was one of the most valuable things I will take away from this workshop."
In 2022, the French Football Federation (FFF) set up a cooperation project with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), involving a technical exchange programme, observation of training sessions and a friendly match between the two nations' women's youth teams.
In recent years, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has provided grassroots and coach education workshops for Dutch-speaking Caribbean islands, with a focus on women's football. Teaming up with the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), they also supported the creation of a mini pitch in Sint Maarten.
In February 2023, UEFA conducted a Football for Women seminar together with the South African Football Association. The programme helps national associations to develop women in football on and off the pitch at all levels, emphasising the need for female representation within the game.
Further north, in the heart of Africa, the Football Association of Zambia experienced UEFA's impact through the UEFA Career Transition Programme. In partnership with FIFPRO Africa, the course played a pivotal role in empowering former male and female players from 12 African countries, providing insights into their transferable skills and potential opportunities off the pitch.
UEFA Assist: putting football first around the world
UEFA launched Assist, a football development programme, in 2017. Its objective: to share the experience and know-how of UEFA and its member associations beyond Europe.
By working closely with UEFA's five sister confederations and FIFA, Assist has built on existing collaborations with the AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North and Central America), CONMEBOL (South America) and the OFC (New Zealand and South Pacific Island nations).
So far, Assist has channelled UEFA support to more than 200 football development projects in close to 60 countries worldwide. Initiatives focus on four main goals:
• Building capacity
• Developing youth football
• Strengthening infrastructure
• Supporting UEFA member associations to create their own solidarity programmes