European champion with Germany in 2013, Nadine Kessler is thrilled to be helping the women's game "get even better" as she settles into her new role as a UEFA women's football advisor.
The 2014 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year and UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe was a role model for young girls everywhere during her playing career. Although injury forced her into an early retirement at the age of 28 in 2016, Kessler was eager to carry on promoting women's football, and joined UEFA's women's football development team in March.
"It means a lot to me personally to be working for UEFA, because it reflects what I was fighting for as a player on a daily basis," says the former midfielder. "I'm very proud and happy to be playing this role and fulfilling these duties, and being in the position of being able to give something back."
The UEFA Women's Football Development Programme has grown substantially since the first pilot scheme was launched in 2010/11. Grassroots projects, public relations campaigns and new women's leagues and competitions have all changed the landscape, as Kessler has witnessed first-hand.
"I think UEFA's influence is huge," she says. "When you go on trips, you experience the projects being implemented up close and see how ideas are coming to life through UEFA's support, and how many girls and new players have access to our sport. Furthermore, the national associations are delighted to receive this support."
Getting girls playing the game is one thing, keeping them involved is quite another, and elite competitions like the UEFA Women's EURO are essential to show young players what they can aspire to and achieve if they keep at it. Across the board, from youth competitions to the UEFA Women's EURO, the quality of women's football is rising, and Kessler is happy to be helping improve standards still further.
"Tournaments like this are the reason you want to become a professional – this is the moment when all the hard work pays off. I'm delighted to help and support my sport on every level of the women's football pyramid. It's crucial that everybody who cares about this sport sees the potential in joining our efforts and moving forward together."
Much remains to be done, but Kessler is optimistic about the trajectory of the women's game. "Overall I would say that women's football has developed hugely in terms of the quality of the game, and especially in the athletic and technical abilities of the players. And it will get even better. There's still a lot of potential to develop our sport."
This article appears in the UEFA Women's EURO 2017 official programme
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