The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), with the help of UEFA, showed its firm commitment to the further development of women's football through a special event at the weekend.
Women's Football Day was held to accompany the Portuguese Women's Football Cup final, in which 1º de Dezembro secured a 3-0 win against CF Benfica at the National Stadium in Jamor.
The day served as a celebration of the women's game and a tribute to the players and clubs that have been investing in women's football. More than 500 youngsters took part in the activities at the Jamor Sports Complex. Some 40 women's teams from clubs and schools participated in 108 games on the pitches adjacent to the National Stadium, with festivities ending one hour before the final kicked off.
Portugal are among 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 UEFA Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP) is being bolstered via yearly payments of €100,000 between 2012 and 2016, with payments coming from the HatTrick III scheme. The big day on Saturday was a pilot project under the WFDP to assess the impact of UEFA's investment steps.
The young women players had lunch at the sports complex and then watched the final – providing colour and a warm atmosphere for the match. The FPF organised other activities running parallel to the main event – in particular a photo exhibition on the women's national team which was inaugurated on Friday.
The senior and women's Under-19 national teams have produced positive results recently. Since Mónica Jorge took over as head coach, Portugal's senior women's team has risen eight places in the FIFA rankings, and the coach was a popular attendee at the festivities. One aim in Portugal is to develop women's football with the help of the country's leading clubs – taking an example from futsal, which has experienced tremendous growth in the country in recent times.
"There has been a push to change the situation of women's football in Portugal, because the number of registered women players is 3% – which is wrong when you think that women represent more than 50% of the population," FPF general secretary Angelo Brou told UEFA.com.
Brou gave sound advice to girls and women who like football, and who might be considering playing the game. "Be active with football," he urged. "Because with football, you can fight obesity and health problems, and you can learn how to be in a team. Football is a discipline where you can learn a lot."
Carlos Godinho, the head of FPF football department, also spoke of the efforts being made in Portugal to nurture women's football. "We are trying to implement a programme at school sports level, dedicated exclusively to women's football," he said. "Our priority must be support to the clubs. That is what the FPF has been doing these last two years, by supporting teams' travel in the national championship and by creating a second division – and, above all, by investment in new areas such as school sport. This is where girls start playing and discovering football.
"Our intention is to try and develop the internal competition in school sport," he added. "It is a bold project, for which we will need the cooperation of the regional football associations and municipalities – that seems to me absolutely necessary if we want to increase our recruiting basis and get closer to the main powers of European women's football."