ANNUAL REVIEW: UEFA is committed to the development of women's football in Europe. Here is our review of the year in UEFA and across the associations.
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The development of women's football is important to UEFA. Indeed, the House of European football has been working on expanding the reach of the women's game in 2015 building on two key initiatives: the strength of its competitions, including the UEFA Women's Champions League, and Women's Under 19, and Women’s Under 17; and to support national associations' projects through newly appointed women’s football development ambassadors.
Karen Espelund, member of the UEFA Executive Committee and chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee commented on UEFA's remit, achievements and prospects: "At UEFA,
our mission is to promote, protect, and develop European football, and that includes women's football. Substantial progress has certainly been made developing the women's game in 2015. Looking ahead, we need to continue the good work on both competitions and development, and we count on all of UEFA’s stakeholders’ close collaboration and engagement."
The state of women's football
One of UEFA's roles is to assess the ongoing development of the women's game. Recently released research compiled by UEFA for 2015/16 reveals the key statistics about women’s football in the 54 national associations. We learn, for example, that:
- the total number of registered female players accounts to nearly 1.2 million
- female professional players are 2,200 spread in 145 clubs in 23 countries
- the top five countries with the most female players are England, France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden
Developing the game in national associations
Launched in 2010, the UEFA Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP) aims to develop opportunities for all girls and women who want to play football within their community, regardless of skill or talent. UEFA supports national associations' identified project of choice via the UEFA's HatTrick assistance schemes. Since, a number of projects have been flourishing across UEFA's affiliated associations including in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, in Georgia and Lithuania, and in Germany.
A significant milestone of the year was the appointment by UEFA of talented and charismatic players as Women's Football Development Ambassadors back in February. Camille Abily, Verónica Boquete, Laura Georges, Lotta Schelin, and Steffi Jones were selected based on their track record as footballers and their engagement towards advancing women's football. Since the beginning of 2015, they have embraced their role fully, as they promoted UEFA's values, inspired current and future players, and advocated for the women's game.
UEFA wants to see more women in executive positions in football and remains committed to the Women in Football Leadership Programme, an initiative that has now been running for the past few years and is already benefiting several National Associations. The course gathers women working in the administration of football across Europe to boost their skills and representation in key positions and to ensure that leadership skills are recognised, nurtured and implemented across the European football family.
Seminars and workshops
Last but not least, harnessing knowledge and skills is also an important remit of UEFA. Workshops and trainings are frequently being held, such as the session in Wembley in November to assess the impact of the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada on the development of the European women's game.