As part of the legacy programme of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016, a regional women’s football development seminar was held in Jordan between 17 and 20 May.

During the three-day programme, which was focused on West Asia, the seminar brought together general secretaries, technical directors and women’s football development managers from Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Oman, and Iran, as well as representatives from FIFA, AFC, the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) and the U-17 World Cup’s Local Organising Committee (LOC).

The seminar took place in a crucial period of change within FIFA and global football, with the participation of girls and women at all levels of the game having become a key priority for FIFA and its member associations and confederations.

The topics covered ranged from the status, potential and future of women’s football development in West Asia, to participation, strategic planning, promotion, marketing, grassroots, youth and league development. Member associations also debated how best to improve the competitive level in the region and discussed the implementation of development tournaments to accelerate the progress being made by women’s football.

A passionate and open debate then took place within a panel composed by representatives from, Bahrain, Iran, Oman, Palestine, Jordan and the U-17 World Cup LOC. The panel focused on the different cultural, social and political obstacles existing in the region and how those involved break down barriers and work hard to further women’s football. Hosting the U-17 Women’s World Cup was identified as a key milestone for growing the women’s game in the region and as an example to follow for other member associations.

Sais Elahe Arab Ameri, vice-president and head of women’s football at Iran’s football association, was positive about the seminar and its likely impact. She said: “It brought all of us together, from the different countries in West Asia, we felt close, and we shared knowledge, experience and discussed openly our common challenges. It was impressive that this seminar was organised by women and led by women, as speakers and experts. They gave us a lot of information and, for Iran, it was important to learn how to develop a competitive women’s league”

“When I return to Iran, I want to hold a seminar like this, to share what I have learnt with colleagues, coaches and our national teams”

The seminar was also a platform for hearing inspirational stories from Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen, where impressive plans and activities are in place despite the apparent and significant difficulties facing these nations. As Safa Abdallah Al-Shaoubi, head of women’s football in Yemen, said: “My wish is for decision-makers in my country to understand the role of women within football for greater inclusion and diversity in society.

“The discussions and presentations were very helpful,” she added. “We heard from FIFA, AFC and the instructors, and they gave me ideas on how to develop women’s football in Yemen if I have the opportunity to move forward.”

The week also included an extra-special moment when Jordan’s U-17 women’s national team were visited by a world champion: Germany and Arsenal star Mesut Ozil.

The seminar, meanwhile, concluded with a round table focused on the legacy of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016, where member associations brought forward recommendations for FIFA and AFC to support women’s football and create a shared vision for women’s football in West Asia.

The LOC has officially extended an invitation for associations in the region to apply and recommend their female staff for different responsibilities during the tournament, while their respective women’s national teams have also been invited to to attend some of the matches.

Later in the year, FIFA will organise a regional coaching workshop during the U-17 Women’s World Cup for coaches working in women’s football in the region. The coaches will have the chance to observe and analyse the games and learn from world-class FIFA instructors.

These events are all part of FIFA’s development strategy for women’s football to enhance the legacy of Jordan 2016.