Oceania’s first FIFA Women’s Football Regional Development Seminar in 2005 was held in Cook Islands, and now ten years on, the same Polynesian nation is hosting another event that will be crucial to furthering the women’s game throughout the region.

FIFA and OFC have organised this week’s seminar to help with assessing the progress made and creating a vision for the Confederation and Associations to follow.

Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA) CEO Mii Piri described it is an honour for the association to be welcoming colleagues from across the Pacific to discuss the successes and struggles each of them face in engaging women in football.

“Here in Cook Islands we have definitely grown the number of women playing football in the last ten years,” she said. “We offer more programmes than before and there are a greater number of leagues, some of them mixed, that provide women with the opportunity to play.”

Piri said that holding this event during the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship also helps raise the profile of the seminar and what it is trying to achieve. “Each of the teams participating in this competition have players who have come through the various programmes on offer in each Member Association which shows that we are making a difference.

“For the Cook Islands and the development of the women’s game here we hope that as well as raising the profile we have shown local girls that playing football can lead somewhere, that they can represent their country and travel the world.”

The FIFA Women’s Football Regional Development Seminar brings together the CEOs or General Secretaries, technical directors and women’s football development officers from each of the 11 OFC Member Associations.

Unleashing potential
“The Oceania region has come forth in the past years by putting in place tailor-made programmes for women and girls,” said Mayi Cruz Blanco, FIFA Senior Women’s Football Development Manager. “In particular we have seen great progress with grassroots projects and the creation of youth leagues.

“Together with OFC, FIFA seeks to explore further opportunities to help associations become more competitive and realise the full potential of women’s football in the region,”

A crucial step in the future is to optimise current development plans and work on priorities at Associations and Confederation level.

Under discussion over the course of the four-day seminar will be the current status, potential and future of women’s football development in Oceania, as well as some of the trends on the international stage. Grassroots, youth and league development will be key topics.

In collaboration with OFC and FIFA, the 2015-2018 Member Association Development Plans will be discussed as will the creation of a shared vision for women’s football in Oceania.

The seminar will also aim to provide Member Associations in the region with different tools that will help them to plan and monitor progress.

Sessions will be led by FIFA Consultant Ebru Koksal and FIFA Women’s Football Instructor Hesterine De Reus.