Wave of inspiration at Canada conference
© FIFA.com

“The legacy from Germany 2011 will provide growth and strength from grassroots to elite soccer in the women’s game,” FIFA Executive Committee Member Chuck Blazer told attendees of the FIFA/CONCACAF Conference on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany™ 2011, held in Vancouver, Canada from 26 to 29 January.

The Vancouver event was the third in a series of successful FIFA conferences aimed at passing on the expertise acquired at Germany 2011 - the most successful FIFA Women’s World Cup to date. Coaches and technical directors from all of CONCACAF’s member associations were joined by esteemed guests, members of FIFA’s Technical Study Group, leaders in football development at FIFA and a variety of guest speakers.

World champions share their vision
A major highlight of the four-day event was a presentation by world champions Japan. Chairman of Japan FA’s Women’s Football Committee Eiji Ueda and women’s national team assistant coach Hiroyuki Horino openly shared their ‘Nadeshiko Japan’ vision - a project that started in 2007 and resulted in a world championship in 2011.

“Our small girls have done big things... I’m happy to share our plan with the people of CONCACAF to improve together.” Eiji Ueda told FIFA.com. “I would like to advise countries in CONCACAF to use youth development programs and to educate coaches. At the same time, if you want to be a top country in women’s football you have to strengthen and develop your top team.”

A project of life
France women’s national team coach Bruno Bini shared his Live Together project with attendees. "Impossible things are possible things that have not occurred yet," he said. The charismatic coach believes that “respect, hard work, solidarity, friendship, tolerance, sharing and dreaming," contributed to Les Bleues success at Germany 2011.

Regional heavyweights Mexico, USA and Canada outlined their plans from grassroots all the way up to the national level and FIFA’s Technical Study Group delivered a thorough technical and tactical analysis on Germany 2011. There were also various podium discussions and presentations on FIFA women’s football development programmes and competitions as we progress towards the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.

“It's inspiring. It gives you renewed energy for the future," 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning coach Even Pellerud told FIFA.com. “This conference has been informative but also been very interactive. A lot of people have had the opportunity to voice their opinions and plans. There have been no secrets. Everyone has been open-minded. It's been very good."

"I truly believe this is the best conference I've been to in women's soccer,” said April Heinrichs, the first captain to ever raise the FIFA Women’s World Cup when USA won the inaugural even in 1991. “You get a global perspective about what’s happening. It gives us an opportunity to be inspired."

Record crowds gather
The conference coincided with the CONCACAF Qualification Tournament for the Women’s Olympic Football tournament taking place in Vancouver from 19-29 January. Hosts Canada and neighbours USA secured qualification for the prestigious tournament. The final stages of the qualifying tournament, held at Vancouver's B.C. Place stadium, saw a new attendance record set for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. "As we move towards hosting the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015, I believe that the qualifying event has set the stage for what is to come," said Sport Canada Senior Advisor Annette Wildgoose.

Canada will do a great job," FIFA Women’s World Cup ambassador Silvana Burtini told FIFA.com. "I was very honoured to be named as one of the ambassadors." Meanwhile, CSA President Dr. Dominique Maestracci believes that the CSA vision will lead “Canada to victory and Canadians to a life-long love affair with football.”

Developing the game
“We're all very fortunate that we are working in something that we really care about,” said Acting CONCACAF General Secretary Ted Howard during the conference’s closing ceremony. “Carry that with you, in all the things you do for your federation in bringing this women's event to the fore."

As participants waved goodbye to colleagues old and new, Daria Adderley - a high-school teacher who spends all her free time coaching school teams, club teams and the Bahamas U-17 women's national team - reflected on the past few days. “I found that the information provided was very useful. It’s something that I can definitely use for the development of the women's game back home,” said the coach while holding some of the new teaching resources handed out at the conference.

The new educational material created by FIFA included a ‘Developing the Game’ teaching manual covering all aspects of Women’s Football development from high-level tasks such as how to implementing women’s football programmes all the way down to player motivation and training organisation. Accompanying resources included interactive DVDs on women’s football coaching and goalkeeping and a complete TSG report document on Germany 2011.

“I love playing football, I still play football and I try to inspire my girls to have the same kind of enthusiasm and love for the sport,” said Adderley. “Attending this conference has definitely given me a new zeal for sharing the love of football and has inspired me to go out and do some wonderful things for my country.”