The first intake of participants in FIFA’s Female Leadership Development Programme (FLDP) will graduate this week, with the third and final module taking place in Amsterdam.

Introduced by FIFA to help increase the number of female leaders and role models in football, the inaugural edition kicked off in Vancouver last July during the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ and has involved 33 participants and more than a dozen mentors from across the globe.

The programme now takes on even greater importance in terms of the potential impact it could have following the landmark reforms passed by the FIFA Congress this month, including a minimum of six women on the FIFA Council and a new obligation under the FIFA Statutes to promote women in football.

“The emphasis in the revised FIFA Statutes on promoting women’s football – the game itself as well as the role of women in governance – will make a big difference and I hope that we will look back and see this as having been a major milestone in normalising the presence of women in the game,” says Moya Dodd, FIFA Executive Committee co-opted member and chair of the FIFA Task Force for Women’s Football, who is also a mentor in the FLDP.

“Football can be a better game holistically if it is able to embrace and call upon the administrative, coaching and other skills of the entire population and not just half of it,” Dodd added.

FIFA is investing around USD 1 million in the implementation of each edition of the FLDP. The nine-month programme takes participants through workshops and extensive fieldwork, with a mentor and a leadership coach supporting them along the way. It is one of nine women’s football development programmes which FIFA is offering to its member associations for the 2015-2018 cycle.

“The Female Leadership Development Programme has had a really positive impact, helping the participants to reach
higher and secure support for new projects while enabling the mentors to further develop their roles as football leaders,” says Mayrilian Cruz Blanco, FIFA Senior Women’s Football Development Manager. “It has also been well received by the member associations, who have submitted 75 applications for the 35 places we have available for the next edition starting later this year.”

“We want the participants in this programme to see themselves as future presidents, secretary generals and executive committee members. It is the right time for them to step in to these types of roles,” added Cruz Blanco.

A new “Female Football Week” initiative in Australia and the establishment of a dedicated women’s football department at the Costa Rican Football Association are just two of the examples of the impact that the work of the participants is having. The concluding module III workshop is being held from 29 February to 3 March at the home of the THNK School of Creative Leadership, the organisation delivering the programme in partnership with FIFA. It follows on from the second workshop held in Zurich in October.

Participants will take part in practical sessions on topics such as “leadership styles” and “influencing others” while also having an opportunity to meet with their respective mentor and leadership coach in person. They will present the real-world projects that each of them were required to work on before receiving their graduation certificate on the final day.