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The worldwide growth of women's football as a popular team sport has been highly impressive – and UEFA is determined to give strong impetus to help push the European women's game forward in the years to come. This is the right time to encourage girls and women to get even more involved in football.
The UEFA women's football development programme (WFDP) has emerged through key decisions taken by UEFA. At its meeting in Prague in December 2010, the UEFA Executive Committee noted the huge growth in the female game on this continent, in both registered players and participation. It agreed to support the development programme over the period until 2016 via UEFA's HatTrick assistance scheme on behalf of the UEFA member national associations.
The WDFP envisages expansion at all levels of the sport throughout Europe. The guidance, expertise, advice and resources accompanying the project are intended to give UEFA and its national FAs the chance to put ambitious visions into practice, as well as allowing the associations to advance in accordance with their respective needs.
The growth of the women’s game means that youngsters in particular have an increasing number of top-level women’s footballers to look up to as role models. Such players are becoming respected figures in their own right, and are in the public eye. Consequently, UEFA is building a pool of ambassadors, who will work closely with the governing body to further cultivate women's football across the continent.
UEFA has drawn up a list of values to fit its overall vision of the female game. It pledges to lead the development of all aspects of girls and women's football as a key priority and will endeavour to act as a role model by concrete action and by bringing women into governing positions – a pledge which has already borne fruit.
In addition, UEFA will promote the game within national associations not yet active in this sector, will urge FAs to set major strategic and financial goals in this respect, recommend the inclusion of women in key positions, and ensure that all associations have a domestic women's league. Grassroots activities are being intensified, recruitment plans and player paths aim to help players find their appropriate level, and facilities and playing environments should be made suitable for players, officials and spectators.
The women's football development programme seeks to bring added value to football as a whole. UEFA and its associations have big ideas and hopes – and stimulating work lies ahead, with the overall well-being of European football in mind.