Not only did UEFA's most successful women's tournament come to a spectacular conclusion in Solna on Sunday, but the foundations were being laid for future growth at the KISS Women's Football Development Workshop, held from Friday to Sunday in Stockholm in the run-up to the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 final.
All 54 UEFA member associations were represented at the Hilton Stockholm Guldgränd in the latest event held under the auspices of UEFA's Knowledge & Information Sharing Scenario (KISS) programme, which has been in operation since 2005. Delegates were able to discuss a full range of topics in the promotion of women's and girls' football – and success stories were shared.
Day 1 – Friday
The workshop opened with a panel discussion on recruitment and retention moderated by Rachel Pavlou of The Football Association (FA), joined by Norway's Øyvind Strom, who talked about recruiting girls into the game as a regional football manager, Northern Ireland's Sara Booth and Montenegro's Zoran Mijović. The importance of the 'magic triangle' of home, school and club, links with men’s teams and keeping girls in football between the ages of 13 and 16 emerged as key topics.
Group sessions followed on how associations of different sizes can grow women's football, development campaigns, women's football academic work, amateur leagues, utilising volunteers – such as at UEFA Women's EURO 2013 where 1,400 people gave up their time to help and the use of ambassadors to promote the sport. That was encouraged by two people who have filled that role, England manager Hope Powell and former Sweden player Victoria Sandell Svensson, taking full use of their high profiles in the media to encourage communities and children.
Day 2 – Saturday
The open the day, UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti led a panel discussion on the international women's football calendar, contrasting it with that for men's football. With input from FIFA, the FAs of Russia and Austria, Finland coach Andrèe Jeglertz and representatives of the Swedish league and German club 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam, delegates talked about the different needs of national teams and clubs, especially in countries where most players are amateur but also in leagues where there are a high number of internationals from foreign associations. The move towards fixed dates for friendlies and competition matches was encouraged.
Group sessions then followed on league development, club development and goalkeeping, all led by experts in the fields. That was also the case in the afternoon when youth development – at national and regional level – cultural barriers in nations where women’s football is still young and specific health and injury issues in women’s football were all put in the spotlight. In the last discussion, the fact that anterior cruciate ligament injuries were four to six times more likely in women’s football was discussed, something coaches especially needed to be aware of.
Day 3 – Sunday
The day was opened by UEFA Executive Committee member and UEFA Women’s Football Committee chairwoman Karen Espelund, who spoke of the meeting of all 54 association general secretaries, reporting back on what UEFA could do to help women's football in their nations. UEFA Executive Committee member Michael van Praag then led a discussion on government support for women's football, including a contribution for Scottish Minister for Sport and the Commonwealth Games, Shona Robison MSP. She spoke of how the Scottish government works with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to help women's and girls' football, with financial support to the grassroots and youth football. She pointed out that in her former role of Health Minister the government found that if children are active in their childhood there is a high chance that they will remain active in adulthood.
Also contributing was Israel's head of women's football Sharon Zeevi, UEFA women's football development programmes (WFDP) ambassador and German Football Association (DFB) director of women's football Steffi Jones, and the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) executive president Damir Vrbanović, all giving examples of cooperation between their national governments and associations. Former Dutch Minister of Sport and UEFA Women's Football Committee member Clémence Ross spoke about encouraging politicians in their times in office that women's football is a success story that can help them leave a legacy.
The marketing and promotion of women's football was next on the agenda, with example from countries such as England, Germany, Lithuania, Malta and Austria of how to use media old and new to tell the story of women's football and attract sponsors and participants.
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