The first-of-its-kind FIFA Women’s Regional Development Seminar and India Development Workshop kicked off in the Capital on Monday.
Besides a total of 100 participants including foreign delegates from 11 Countries, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, AIFF Senior Vice President Subrata Dutta, Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran, FIFA Regional Development Officer for South and Central Asia were also present on the day.
Furthermore, Moya Dodd, Vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation and a co-opted member of FIFA’s Executive Committee; Heike Ullrich, Deputy Director, German FA, Head of Women’s Football at the German Football Association; and Hesterine de Reus, former Dutch footballer who recently worked as head Coach of the Australian Women’s Team and Monika Staab, FIFA Technical Expert consultant for Women’s Football.
AIFF President Praful Patel in his message said: “I am extremely happy that the FIFA Women’s Regional Development Seminar is taking place from December 15 to 17 2014 in Delhi for the member associations of South and Central Asia.”
“Women’s football is of key importance in the development of Football all over the World and in India. We have given special focus to the development of women’s game by including it as a special strategic goal in our Strategic Plan 2014-2017, which was launched by the Secretary General of FIFA.”
Dutta, AIFF Senior Vice President added: “We are proud to host the first ever dedicated Seminar for Women in Asia.
“This is a perfect opportunity for all stakeholders to make senior endeavours to improve Women’s Football. At AIFF, we have included development of Women’s Football as an important goal in our Strategic Plan and now have a dedicated development team working on it.”
“I strongly believe that with concerted efforts and more such knowledge gain from FIFA our girls have a realistic chance of playing the World Cup in the near future.”
Echoing the senior vice president, Das said: “We have every intent to develop women’s football and it is a very important part of our four year strategic plan.
“I firmly believe women’s team has a much better chance of playing the World Cup.”
Dr. Prabhakaran reiterated: “It’s wonderful to have a seminar for women in India. I wish all of you present here all the very best and hope that you go back enriched, making women’s football livelier.”
Earlier, the day began with a session all the aforementioned on “Women’s Football Development and Challenges Today”.
Dodd, who is one of the three Female Executive Committee members at FIFA, pointed out the areas to improve such as building on the 50% Women Playing population, increasing the number of Women Referees, having more Grassroots Programmes for Women.
The Australian stressed on the importance of having a well established Women’s League which is the touchstone to spreading the game across length and breadth of every Member Association.
“A League is a must and as part of every Federation we should ensure a proper Women’s League is in place with Youth Development and Grassroots aligned with it.”
Abreast about India’s plan to work out a sustainable format for the first-ever Women’s League to take place, Dodd ensured full assistance from FIFA and AFC.
Taking stalk of India’s third consecutive SAFF Championship triumph, Dodd later told AIFF Media that, “SAFF win can be taken as a stepping step towards the rise of women’s football in India. Now it’s time to take the next step,” she added.
Heike Ullrich, who besides being with German FA was also at the helm of affairs for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup gave a very relevant example of how women’s football is on the rise in terms of popularity.
“England played Germany in a friendly last month (November 23) at Wembley and it drew record attendance (45,619). What was most encouraging was the men’s match against Norway two months earlier had fewer people turning up (40,181), and mind you these English footballers are mega stars.”
“So there is audience for women’s football and thus sponsors too,”
Staab, who was the observer in the recently concluded SAFF Championship in Pakistan were India came up trumps by a country mile, opined that the girls are going in the right direction, and with proper guidance realising the ‘biggest dream’ won’t be far way.
“I have always maintained the women have a much better chance of playing the World Cup than their men counterparts. The way they have been playing in the SAFF Championships is inspiring and it’s time these performances are taken to the next level. The platform needs to be provided.”
Followed by the opening session, FIFA Women’s Football Development Senior Manager Mayi Cruz Blanco shed light on the FIFA Women’s Task force, in vogue since 2011 and the Women’s football structure at FIFA.
Julie Teo, from AFC, talked about the Women’s Assistance Programme (WAP), which has been AFC’s development programme since July 2013.
Post lunch, a session was conducted on Governance, Strategy, and Planning by Dodd, while Mr. Das presented India’s strategic plan for women’s football development.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)