Solomon Football > News > FIFA/OFC Women’s Football Development Seminar > Women’s football takes centre stage

Women’s football takes centre stage

Representatives from each of the confederation’s member associations have arrived to take part in the three-day seminar and it was officially opened this morning by FIFA Women’s Football Development Manager Mayi Cruz Blanco.
For OFC Women’s Development Officer Nicola Demaine, the event is a chance to highlight plans for the development of the female game throughout the Oceania region.
“It’s not the first conference of its type that we’ve had, but it’s going to be the one that everyone looks back on and says ‘That was it, that was the starting point, that’s the one that changed everything’,” Demaine told seminar attendees during the opening ceremony.
With the women’s game undergoing rapid growth in recent years, some member associations have struggled to keep up with the development of New Zealand’s senior women’s team, the Football Ferns, who are currently ranked 20th in the FIFA World Rankings.
The closest team from Oceania is Papua New Guinea who are ranked 48th, while a number of countries have seen their national sides slip right off the table due to inactivity.
However, Cruz Blanco said it may have been a while since her previous visit but she is happy to see the progress being made in advancing women’s football in the region since then.
“I think 2006 was the last seminar that we had here and since then many things have happened in terms of women and girls participating in football. We had the greatest of the women’s sports events with the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2011 – that left a great legacy and has shaken all the structures of football, especially at FIFA,” Cruz Blanco said.
“I think you’ve seen how many new initiatives we have for developing women’s football and supporting leagues, girl’s festivals and grassroots development specifically for girls, and this is part of the legacy of Germany because it was such a fantastic tournament.”
Cruz Blanco used Azerbaijan and the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup as an example of how women’s football is crossing the divides of gender, culture and equality.
“I thought Azerbaijan was a big lesson and provided a message in terms of how far women’s football has come. It is a muslim country and they put together a great tournament. Even for a girl’s festival that we organised there we had about 2000 people coming to see little girls play football,” she said.
“For me, that was a fantastic message to the world that there are no barriers – no cultural barriers, no social barriers. Now girls and women can participate in football and it is really important for us to feel it – but also to do something about it.”
Cruz Blanco said she was hoping for three productive days whereby women’s football would be at the forefront of everybody’s minds.
“I really hope that you are committed. If you are committed then our work will be easier because you are the ones that are going to make the difference. We can bring great programmes, we can put money into it and say ‘Yes, put the girls and women in football’, but if you don’t make the difference locally then we can’t do anything,” she told the attendees.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank New Zealand Football for hosting this event and also for supporting the region. I would also like to thank OFC because it is one of the confederations that is really earmarking efforts for women’s football with a dedicated person for women on the executive committee which I think is great for women’s football.”
The FIFA/OFC Women’s Football Development Seminar runs for the next two days before concluding on Wednesday 15 May.
Story courtesy of OFC.