Philadelphia – CONCACAF concluded its “Let’s Develop Women’s Football”
conference, a two-day gathering of prominent global leaders in women’s football. The event was highlighted by the region’s vast success stories, providing Member Associations with new strategies and ideas to continue competing at the elite level.
CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb officially opened the seminar and, in his remarks, emphasized the Confederation’s unparalleled achievements in women’s football. With the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup set to be played in Canada, CONCACAF is again in an exceptional position to excel on the pitch.
Yet, there is still much work to be done, so that the potential of women’s football can be maximized throughout the region. “The priority for all our Member Associations should be development,” said President Webb. “This is an opportune time to be a part of women’s football – regionally and globally. I encourage each of you to utilize your strengths to start your own programs, with the confidence that CONCACAF and FIFA are with you. I want us all to believe in a new movement for women’s football.”
CONCACAF is the leading Confederation for participation in women’s football with more than 26 million registered female players. This year has been a productive and exciting one in the women’s game as the region hosted both of FIFA women’s tournaments for youth players – the U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups in Costa Rica and Canada, respectively. In August, CONCACAF conducted its first-ever Under-15 tournament for girls in the Cayman Islands. Those international competitions are expected to leave a legacy for national teams and clubs, while creating a solid future for CONCACAF’s next generations.
There are currently 30 women’s football leagues at the national association level, including three futsal and three beach soccer leagues, throughout the region. In total, there are 25 youth leagues (U13, U15 and U17), which demonstrate the current focus on women’s youth development, as well as the potential for further growth.
At the conference, Sonia Bien-Aime, a FIFA and CONCACAF Executive Committee member and President of the Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association, joined the Football Changed My Life session.
An inspiring panel discussion that also featured current Costa Rica international Daniela Cruz, Cedella Marley (Global Ambassador for the Jamaica Football Federation women’s football program) and Kari Seitz (retired FIFA referee). Bien-Aime talked with passion about the game and the opportunities for women in football.
“As an administrator you have to play a key role and take a firm stand to create future opportunities for other women,” said Bien-Aime. “One of the things that I really enjoyed is that football has not only impacted me, but my country. I can introduce my country to the world through football.”
Cruz spoke about Costa Rica’s qualification for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, while offering insights on many topics from a player’s perspective, including how women’s football has grown in her country, the opportunities of playing at major tournaments and the need of more support to develop talent.
This successful event, held at the Dell Theater in Philadelphia, was organized in conjunction with the finals of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship at PPL Park in nearby Chester, Pennsylvania.
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