July 2 – As the France 2019 Women’s World Cup goes into its semi-final stages, UEFA has championed its women’s development programmes as the foundation for the success of its national associations that filled seven of the last eight quarter final slots and three of the semi-final places.
The UEFA women’s football development programme (WFDP) has been running since 2012 and has funded 459 applications to the amount of €82.2 million across all 55 UEFA associations.
“The potential for women’s football is limitless and, with this in mind, UEFA has taken the step of increasing the funding available to the national associations to help improve the women’s game across the continent,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. “Increasing the participation and the role of women in football has been one of my main objectives, both before and after I became UEFA president.”
Of the WFDP applications, 50% (about €31 million in funding) have centred on grassroots projects, creating opportunities for girls and women to play the game; €12 million has been invested into 94 club and league development projects; and €13.5 million into 78 projects to help FAs to enhance their elite youth pathways, coaching and development.
UEFA says this has resulted in a higher level of elite player and higher standards at the top of the European women’s game.
The WFDP has been running since 2012, with each association receiving €100,000 every year specifically for growing the women’s game. From 2020, this figure will rise by 50%, with each association set to benefit from an annual €150,000.
“It’s just great to see that football has become a more natural choice for girls – which means we are on the right track of changing perceptions around the world – and that efforts to make the sport more accessible are paying off,” said UEFA head of women’s football Nadine Kessler (pictured), a three-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner.
Currently 1.3 million girls and women play for clubs throughout Europe, according to UEFA who have a target to extend this to 2.5 million by 2024.
UEFA points to a growing domestic women’s game which now sees almost every European nation with a league, and a 50% increase in the number of active professional players in Europe compared with 2017. UEFA says national associations have invested €123 million in the women’s game, which is a 10% increase from 2017.
UEFA is now into its new strategy for the women’s game – ‘Time for Action: UEFA Women’s Football Strategy 2019–24’ – which it says will focus on building the foundations within its associations to “support a balanced delivery of this plan from grassroots to elite levels.”
“Women’s football is the football of today; it is not the football of tomorrow. It is UEFA’s duty as European governing body to empower the women’s game,” said Aleksander Čeferin.
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