Women's football pioneers honoured by IOC

Ahlam Salem Mubarak Al Mana and Marlene Bjornsrud were both honoured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday as their contribution to the development of women's participation in sport, and football in particular, was recognised at the 2013 IOC Women and Sports Awards in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Six women received prizes from the IOC during the ceremony, with the governing body handing out a World Trophy and five continental awards. The 2012 Olympic Games in London, during which FIFA organised the Men's and Women's Olympic Football Tournaments, marked a whole new chapter in the advancement of female participation since women were first admitted in 1900.

"We have made great progress towards equality on the field of play, but we have much more to do to boost the number of women coaches and sports administrators," commented IOC President Jacques Rogge during the event.

The World Trophy was presented to Ahlam Salem Mubarak Al Mana for her work promoting the development of women's sport in Qatar. President of the Qatar Women's Sport Committee, she has played an especially active role in popularising sport among schoolgirls, while also enhancing the positions and leadership roles of Qatari women in sport.

Her efforts made headlines around the world when she secured the participation of four Qatari female athletes at the 2012 Olympics – a first for her country. In addition, she has set up training programmes in Qatar to develop women as coaches in various different sports, including football.

Meanwhile, Marlene Bjornsrud of the USA collected a continental award for her work promoting the role of women and girls in sport in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has sought to improve access to physical activities, offered opportunities to develop as leaders and increased the positive promotion of female athletes in the media. She has been flanked in her efforts by former USA internationals Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy, who both won Olympic gold in 1996 and 2004 as well as FIFA Women's World Cup™ titles in 1991 and 1999.