UEFA's Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP) continues to take promising strides forward with a pilot education project being held in Italy to coincide with the final stages of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship.
European football's governing body has financed the pilot project presented by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), in collaboration with the women's football division of the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti (National Amateur League), as part of programmes promoted at international level to develop the female game.
The FIGC is one of 53 UEFA national associations benefiting from the importance being attached to women's football by UEFA, with the help of its Knowledge & Information Sharing Scenario (KISS) and HatTrick projects, and backed by the UEFA Executive Committee.
The FIGC is paying particular attention to the needs of young women footballers through a model of training and coaching that enables them to discover and cultivate their physical and technical potential.
Activities covered in the project – which will result, among other things, in the implementation of the first elearning initiative devoted to women's football, with a dedicated video channel – have elicited the direct involvement of qualified coaches and technicians. Two separate training sessions are being conducted in Cervia during the concluding days of the women's U19 championship currently taking place in the Rimini area of eastern Italy.
The project also involves teachers from the national and international scene, selected for their technical, methodological, sports/medical or psycho-pedagogic expertise. The head coaches of the women's U19 teams taking part in the Rimini tournament – Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain and Switzerland – have also been engaged in both training sessions and meetings to analyse the matches.
At its meeting in Prague in December, the UEFA Executive Committee noted the huge growth in European women's football in terms of both registered players and participation, and agreed to support the UEFA WFDP via yearly payments of €100,000 between 2012 and 2016. These payments will come from the HatTrick III scheme.
Women's football in Italy represents a movement of increasing interest and importance, as confirmed by figures recorded at national level: a combined 24,000 players are registered by the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti, the Settore Giovanile e Scolastico (for youth and schools) and the Enti di Promozione Sportiva (official sporting organisations). Overall, about 300,000 women players are involved in the Italian game.
In this context, the decisive role of training and education in attaining an effective development strategy for women's football must be acknowledged – with specific attention being given to fostering a new generation of women coaches, and to enabling the effective exchange of information and best practices.