Makudi: "Thailand will do her best!"
With the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship Thailand 2004 right around the corner FIFA.com took time out to chat with one of the masterminds of the women's game, Worawi Makudi. Chairman of the Committee for Women's Football and FIFA Women's Competitions, Makudi - at the vanguard of Thai football as the FA's General Secretary - is looking forward to a fine festival of football in Southeast Asia.
FIFA.com: Mr. Makudi, what does it mean to have a FIFA competition returning to Asia?
Worawi Makudi: We are all so proud for a FIFA competition to return to Asia since the successes of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan . We were expecting China to host the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, but because of the problems we all know China had to give the opportunity to the USA.
The FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship is the second-largest women's tournament after the FIFA Women's World Cup. It is also the first time that Thailand has had the opportunity to organise a full-fledged FIFA Competition. It is a great opportunity for us, and we feel a great sense of pride to be hosting some of the world's best young female footballers.
Did the Thai authorities offer support for the effort?
We had the full support of our Government - led by Prime Minister Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra. He was of great service to us in allocating additional funding for stadium renovations in Phuket. We were given every kind of support and assistance whenever we needed it.
How are the preparations going? Is everything ready?
|Makudi responds to reporters at a press conference in Long Beach, California during the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003.|
The last U-19 was a huge success in term of public interest; do you expect Thailand 2004 to be so successful?
We are trying our best to get as close as possible to the successes seen in Canada . It was a tremendous experience and we want to be at least as successful and we are trying our absolute hardest.
What measures were taken to reach this lofty goal?
We plan to create a lot of opportunities for the young people of Thailand, especially schoolgirls and boys. They will have free access to some of the matches. We are working in close cooperation with the ministry of education to give those interested young football lovers every opportunity to see the matches they want. They will all get free tickets.
Do you think this competition will raise public interest for football in Thailand?
Most definitely yes, there is currently a great desire among women to play football. Since we have been chosen to host the tournament we witnessed that, overall, girls are more and more interested in playing football. This is a clear indication that the choice of Thailand to host the competition raised football interest in Thailand.
What are your expectations for the Thai U-19 team in the coming competition? In 2002 hosts Canada caused a huge sensation by reaching the final. Do you think Thailand can repeat this?
There is still a lot of work to be done in Thailand in order to increase the standard of women's football. We have sent our team to a training camp in Germany and they have prepared well. The team played matches against strong European teams. And Even though we don't expect to be in the final or the semi-final, we will do our best.
How would you define success for Thailand?
We hope to reach the knockout stages. It is our sincere wish, and we will try to do our best to achieve it. Now the team is in Chiang Mai playing a few preparatory matches with some invited teams, and they will be ready for the competition.
In your mind which Asian team will lead the pack?
Both Korea Republic and China have a chance to be the top Asian team at finals. Korea Republic are a particularly good side, though I also see China going very far . Generally I think that Asia's teams will have very good results.
What would you say have been the biggest improvements in women's football in the last three years?
The women's game is far faster and more efficient now compared to a few years ago - the standard is going up very, very quickly. I feel that women's football has improved a lot. The last FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship , Women's World Cup and the Olympic Women's Football Tournament showed this trend very clearly. I believe these improvements will help foster more interest in the women's game worldwide
In places where equality between male and female is not the norm, do you think that women's football can bring some social or cultural change?
There can surely be some gradual changes brought about this way. In some countries the cultural and religious traditions makes it difficult for women to express themselves, especially when it come to sport. However, the world has changed significantly and there have been some major changes in some areas. In the future things will change even further and more and more women will take to the football pitches.