Kuala Lumpur: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Member Association representatives and women’s football experts from FIFA, UEFA, CAF and CONCACAF gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, over two days to discuss the way forward for women’s football development in Asia.
The high-level seminar attracted delegates working in women’s football from 39 Member Associations, with FIFA and the European, African and North, Central American and Caribbean Confederation representatives adding a global perspective to the issues and solutions discussed.
FIFA and AFC Executive Committee Member and AFC Women’s Football Committee Chairwoman Moya Dodd said: “The AFC has a great record in women’s football on and off the pitch: Five of the world’s top twenty teams in women’s football are from Asia. Twenty per cent of the AFC Executive Committee members are women, which is considerably more than at any other Confederation. However, other Confederations are stepping up their game and we need to make sure the AFC keeps up in women’s football development.”
AFC Head of Women’s Football Development Bai Lili said: “The AFC’s strategy for women’s football development has a clear aim: We want all women and girls in Asia to have an opportunity to play football. The success of Asian women’s football teams in the global game is a sign of the progress and promise of our continent. Looking ahead, we must continue to encourage more MAs to compete at the highest levels at all age groups, more systematically. Ultimately, the success of the women’s game in Asia will depend significantly on the journey designed and travelled together as one united family.”
During the two-day seminar, the participants were provided with in-depth information about the different AFC and FIFA programmes which support women’s football. These include the AFC Kick-Off Programme which offers assistance in the areas of marketing and sponsorship and the AFC Financial Assistance Programme of which 15 per cent has to be spent on women’s football. Equipment and infrastructure support is available via the annual AFC Grassroots Day and AFC Women’s Football Day, as well as the AFC President’s Initiatives mini-pitch programme.
The participation levels in AFC women’s football competitions across the Member Associations were analysed and presenters from the Japan FA, Football Federation Australia, FIFA and UEFA shared their experiences and insights about women’s football development to the benefit of the MA participants. An important part of the seminar programme was interactive workshops and debates where ideas for improvement and shared challenges in different regions were brought up.
Julie Teo, General Manager of Women’s and Grassroots Football at the Football Association of Singapore, said: “I am very encouraged to see many new faces here at this seminar. I believe this is a clear sign that the women’s game in Asia is certainly growing from strength to strength.
“Personally, I have found the discussions very useful and, through our conversations, we realised that many of us face similar challenges. At the same time, this seminar presents an excellent opportunity to find common solutions and learn from some of the best practices in the continent.”