Ghanaian Rafia Kulchirie, born 20 December 2001, was the youngest player at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016 that drew to a close in Jordan on 21 October. As a young girl she may have dreamed of one day being able to take part in a major tournament, thus proving that dreams can come true! This is the aim of FIFA’s Live Your Goals (LYG) campaign – to show that nothing is impossible. The initiative’s primary objective is to inspire women and girls to play football, as numerous festivals held in October showed. FIFA.com takes a closer look at some of the latest events.
Jordan: Continuing the legacy of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup
The U-17 Women’s World Cup’s positive effect on this country’s talented youngsters was evident at a festival attended by schoolgirls from across the kingdom. While some of those present have already been playing the beautiful game for some time, others were making their first tentative steps into the sport. Girls from different age groups were put through their paces in twelve training groups scattered across the stadium. Each group tested a different skill, including shooting technique, passing and pure pace.
The girls also competed in mini-matches with immense motivation, all the while playing on the same turf as the stars of the U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016. This collaborative project between FIFA and the Jordan Football Association is scheduled to last four years and aims to raise the profile of the sport among the country’s young women. The programme seeks to inspire girls to play football and increase the game’s popularity even further.
Gambia: Preparing for the future with new artificial turf
Representatives of the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) and the Lower River Region (LRR) gathered in Jarra Soma to attend the official inauguration of the country’s newly-built artificial pitch. The event marked another milestone for the development and promotion of football, including the women’s game, in Gambia.
“With this world-class artificial turf now in place, the Lower River Region is going to become one of the best footballing regions in Gambia,” said Ansumana Sanneh, president of the LRR Football Association. “We have one of the best football pitches and that is one of the most important elements of football development.”
Approximately 1,000 girls attended the grand opening and enjoyed the LYG Festival held to celebrate the occasion. It was the fourth event in Gambia organised as part of the campaign launched at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. GFF Women’s Football Committee chairperson Sainabou Cham underlined the initiative’s importance for her country and explained the key role that LYG plays in its development and the promotion of the beautiful game.
"This event is meant to create a platform for women’s football to grow from strength to strength, with more women becoming lifelong participants in the sport,” she said. “At this juncture I must salute the GFF and its president Lamin Kaba Bajo for their foresight. We are aware of your plans to equate women’s football with its male counterpart, and that will go a long way towards the development of our sport in general.”
Australia: Taking advantage of the boom in women’s football
More and more girls and women are taking up football in Australia, thanks in large part to the popularity of the women’s national team. Football Federation Australia (FFA) is keen to make the most of this upward trend to further promote the female side of the game. To help inspire youngsters, the popular LYG programme has now been launched on the island of Tasmania, located off the southern coast of the Australian mainland.
This event was Australia’s third after similar festivals in Sydney and the Northern Territory, with several hundred young girls taking part in a wide range of footballing activities. Matildas coach Alen Stajcic was on hand for the first few days to share his expertise with coaches, teachers and players alike, while Australia striker and recently-appointed LYG ambassador Michelle Heyman also attended the event. “I was really excited when I was asked to be a Live Your Goals ambassador, and having the chance to come to Tasmania and spend some time with these young female players and students has been great,” she said.
In addition to the events mentioned above, festivals were also held in Mexico, Palestine, Chinese Taipel, Moldova, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Bermuda, Jamaica, Malta, Tonga and Peru.