2015 was a landmark year in the development of women's football, not only because of the roaring success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Canada, but because of the results achieved at the game’s very foundations. A record 130 Member Associations benefited from FIFA’s Women’s Football Development Programmes in 2015, and an unprecedented 451 activities were organised exclusively for women’s football around the world. 

As recently as 2008, only 22 of FIFA’s Member Associations had taken part in a women’s football development initiative. By the end of 2015, that figure had risen remarkably, with 195 of FIFA’s 209 Member Associations now having participated in one of FIFA’s nine women’s football programmes in the past eight years.

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the inaugural edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This year, FIFA will achieve a new record, with more than 140 Member Associations requesting women’s football development programmes and over 500 individual activities already forecast.

“Promoting the development of women’s football is one of FIFA’s core priorities, underpinned by the new FIFA Statutes approved in Zurich in February,” said Mayi Cruz Blanco, Senior Women’s Football Development Manager at FIFA. “A crucial part of FIFA’s reforms – as well as the ultimate ambition of achieving the goal of 30 per cent of women in leadership positions – is the commitment to ensure that every girl and woman has the opportunity to become an active participant in football. By the next FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, FIFA’s ambitious aim is to see 45 million girls and women actively involved in the game.”

The work undertaken by FIFA in the last eight years has sought to establish a clear pathway pyramid. Starting with building strong grassroots foundations, the FIFA Women’s Football Development strategy has continually evolved, based on an ongoing assessment of the diverse needs and requirements worldwide. 

Each Member Association is required to have a girls and women’s development plan. Subject to an assessment of those plans by FIFA centrally in Zurich, Member Associations receive support in the form of expertise (e.g. a FIFA Technical Instructor will visit and conduct an audit of current activities and make recommendations), financial assistance, and football equipment for grassroots, youth and leagues.

Grassroots support and league development programmes, are the most requested programmes from Member Associations. To the end of 2015, 50 had requested to participate in the ‘Live Your Goals’ programme, with more than 300,000 girls aged 6-15 having taken part in festivals, since the programme’s inception in 2011. 

There is still much to be done by FIFA, the Confederations, and 209 Member Associations to harness the true potential of football played by women and girls, providing a more equal playing field. Next week, FIFA.com will bring you further good news for the development of women’s football, with an expansion of the Live Your Goals programme in 2016 to new nations, including two of the most populous countries on the planet. And June will see the kick-off of the second edition of FIFA’s Female Leadership Development Programme.