Women’s football making strides in Armenia

  • Armenia is set to launch a five-year women’s football strategy

  • The FFA are being supported by FIFA’s Women’s Football Division

  • An international women’s tournament was held in the country for the first time

Football is a popular sport in Armenia, a country of approximately three million inhabitants in which Sargis Hovsepyan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are household names. Some female stars may also be in the near future. The Armenian Football Association (FFA) has, indeed, started implementing an ambitious development strategy to embed girls’ and women’s football into the nation’s footballing heritage.

With the help and support of FIFA via its COVID-19 Relief Fund – with a tranche ring-fenced for the women’s game – the FFA are set to launch their five-year #OurGame strategy. The grant for the FFA-included support for league development in the form of regional U-12 youth tournaments and a women’s football campaign, with football equipment being provided for 1,000 children participating in events planned by the FFA. The FFA was also one of six European associations that received financial support from UEFA, based on an initiative that was financed by the FIFA Confederation Women’s Football Development Fund.

Key objectives of the FFA Women and Girls Football Strategy 2020-2025

  • Develop competitive national teams at a senior and age group level that the country can be proud of.

  • Create accessible and welcoming opportunities throughout local communities and schools that inspire girls to get involved.

  • Deliver progressive and aspirational development pathways for players, coaches, officials, and volunteers, allowing them to fulfil their potential.

  • Encourage partners to support and invest in the women’s game.

  • Create exciting and engaging opportunities for our spectators.

  • Embed women's football as a positive contributor to physical, mental, and social development.

“In addition to training and development, our goal is to change and improve the image of women’s football in Armenia,” said FFA Executive Committee member Anna Tadevosyan, who is also president of the women’s football and futsal committees. “We want to showcase quality football as well as promote the game’s global reach and importance.

“Through the development and implementation of our strategy we will provide an inspirational pathway of opportunity for our current and future players and for all women working in football. In addition, we will develop a strong and sustainable infrastructure within which our clubs, coaches, officials and volunteers can develop and grow. We want to attract young players, via social media campaigns, live YouTube game broadcasts and broader media exposure.”

The effects of the support reaped immediate results as the FFA recently completed the first-ever international women’s football tournament in the country earlier this month. They were joined by three other developing countries in women’s football: Lithuania, Jordan and Lebanon.

Lithuania won the tournament with seven points, two ahead of hosts Armenia, who also finished the competition unbeaten after defeating Lebanon 2-0 in their opening match before drawing with Jordan (1-1) and the eventual champions (2-2).

“We didn’t win the tournament but for the first time in our history, the women’s national team completed three international games without defeat,” Tadevosyan said of their historical feat. “We view this as another demonstration that the work we started two years ago is going in the right direction and starting to show results.”

Their next test will become clearer on Friday, when the preliminary draw for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ will be made at UEFA’s headquarters. A record 51 countries will be split into nine groups, with Armenia in Pot 6 alongside Montenegro, Lithuania, Estonia, Luxembourg and Bulgaria. Group games will then begin in September of this year.

FIFA launched the Women’s Development Programme for member associations last September in order to further develop women’s football and provide associations with the opportunity to apply for and access additional resources and specialist expertise to develop women’s football at a national level.

Member associations can choose from eight individual programmes provided that they meet the requirements and fit in with their national women’s football development strategy.