From 2 to 3 October, the FIFA Women’s Football Division hosted a workshop with nine leading women’s football experts from around the world. The aim of the intensive two-day workshop was to build and finalise a technical framework for two pilot development projects that the Women’s Football Division, together with the Technical Development Division, have been working on.

“These nine women’s football experts have been selected to support us in these projects based on their tireless efforts and hard-earned expertise in the fields of elite football, participation and development,” said Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman. Among the list of experts were former players, elite coaches, Olympic gold medallists and technical directors in women’s football.

Workshop attendees
• Anja Palusevic (Germany)
• Anne Noe (Belgium)
• Belinda Wilson (Australia) - @Bilby55Wilson
• Houriya Taheri (UAE) - @Houriya69054186
• Lucia Mijares (Mexico) - @lmijares
• Patricia Gonzalez (Spain) - @PatriGlez8
• Pia Sundhage (Sweden)
• Rachel Pavlou (England)
• Vanessa Martínez (Mexico) - @vanemartinezlag

“It’s been a really productive two days,” said, Rachel Pavlou, the National Participation Manager for Women's Football at the English FA. “Some of the experts here had already sat down with FIFA and done the first phase of coming up with an initial framework. What we have done here this week is we have tested and challenged that framework based on the knowledge and experience in this room. This has allowed us to refined things considerably.”

“I think the great thing about the working relationship that FIFA has with the women’s game is FIFA know that there’s a lot of people that have many years’ experience dealing with some big challenges,” added Rachel.

The Pilot Projects
FIFA’s two projects, The Participation project and the Academy Project, cover two key areas of football development. The Participation Project is focused on achieving FIFA’s objective of increasing the number of female players to 60 million by 2026. It will focus on participation growth all the way from school level to international competitions. While the Academy Project is centred on youth elite development and the creation of academies for girls.

“Now we have had the feedback and input from the women’s football experts, the concepts and frameworks can be finalised and the implementation of the pilot projects will begin." Sarai told FIFA.com."The implementation of these pilot projects in 12 of our Member Associations will be an exciting step forward for the Women’s Football Division and for FIFA as a whole as it aims to build the women’s game and capitalise on the growing awareness and popularity of women’s football in recent years.” 

“I’m particularly passionate about the participation project,” said Rachel. “That’s my greatest love, the base of the game and trying to increase opportunities for all girls and women across the world to be able to play football.”

"Both projects are important to me,” commented Spain’s Patricia Gonzalez who has years of experience both as a professional player and coach. “On one side we need to increase participation numbers, and also the quality of participation, but then elite development is very connected to this participation because when we build an elite pathway then we are going to engage more girls in football for sure. To me the projects are interlinked.”

Responsibility to build
The Pilot projects are due to take place within each of the Confederations. Two Member Associations per Confederation will adopt a project each (one doing a pilot for the Academy Project and one doing a pilot for the Participation Project).

When asked what keeps her motivated to keep giving all her time to the development of women’s football Patricia Gonzalez took a brief pause to consider her answer carefully, then explained. "It’s about responsibility,” she told FIFA.com. "The responsibility I feel in myself to make the women's game better. I was a player as a child, then a professional player, then a coach.

"I'm very conscious of the fact that on all these paths that I’ve been on, they have been easier for me than for those that travelled on them before me because of the work previous generations have done to make this possible for me. So now I feel this great responsibility, to make the current situation easier for the next generation.”