Women's football has remained in the limelight in May – not only at club level and in the shape of U-17 international action, but also through the Live Your Goals campaign. Indeed, building on a highly active April in which this programme – one of FIFA's most important initiatives to support women's football – took several parts of the world by storm, this was once more the case last month, with festivals held in countries as wide-ranging as Panama, Singapore, Gambia, the Republic of Ireland and Latvia. FIFA.com gives you the lowdown on some of these events.
Icons pitch in across Republic of Ireland The Republic of Ireland hosted a number of LYG festivals in May. The curtain-raiser came in Dublin, which was followed by events in Westport (in County Mayo, on the country's west coast) and Portlaoise (in County Laois, in the Midlands region). Several schools took part in the proceedings in Westport. The girls involved spent a very special day out on reduced-size pitches, where interactive and training areas were set up. The Republic of Ireland U-19 internationals Jess Nolan and Rachel Kearns, of Galway and Castlebar Celtic respectively, served as instructors, alongside Clare Conlon of reigning league champions Wexford Youths. In the training area, the three players shared their experiences, offered the young girls lots of advice and showcased their skills.
Over in Portlaoise, meanwhile, the participants had the chance to admire the Women's National League trophy thanks to Wexford duo Rianna Jarrett and Claire O'Riordan. Jarrett, who is currently battling her way back from her third cruciate ligament tear, was the perfect person to comfort a girl who was disconsolate at being unable to take part in the activities because of an injury. The fact that this youngster went home happier than when she arrived is testament to what makes this initiative so special.
Smiles in Panama, come rain or shine The bad weather could not wipe the smiles off the faces of the girls who participated in the festival in Changuinola, where they really had a ball. More than 200 of them, aged from six to 12, attended a training session every bit as fun as it was educational. These events are welcomed by the Panamanian Football Association (FEPAFUT), which is keen to carry on fostering and promoting women's football in the country.
Loving it in Latvia The first Latvian LYG festival of the year was geared towards girls born between 2007 and 2009. Its goal was none other than to give them an early introduction to football and kick-start their passion for the beautiful game, as well as ensuring that they understand from a young age the positive impact that women's football can have on their lives, including as part of a healthy lifestyle. More than 90 participants enjoyed this occasion, being split across six different pitches where coaches from FS Metta (Football School Metta) were on hand to deliver a carefully planned training session based on exercises specially designed for small groups.
Several national team members were also in attendance at the event, taking the time out to demonstrate some of the basics and encourage their wide-eyed young pupils, well aware of the importance of patience and perseverance. The expressions of joy worn by the girls at the end of the festival made it clear just how thrilled they were with the experience, having gleefully seized this opportunity to stretch their legs and get better acquainted with the ball.
Further festivals aplenty Besides the festivals mentioned above, numerous others have also taken place in the last couple of months, everywhere from Mexico to Portugal, Estonia, Spain, Wales, Cameroon, Kyrgyzstan, Barbados, Czech Republic, Belgium, Mauritania, St. Kitts and Nevis, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Costa Rica, Curacao, Bhutan and Northern Ireland.