Women’s football gaining momentum in Finland

Ever since English sailors first brought football to Finland in the 1890s, the passion for the beautiful game has continued to grow in the northern European nation. Nowadays, football even tops ice hockey in the number of registered players - especially among women and girls - characterised by skyrocketing enthusiasm.

In collaboration with FIFA Forward, the Finnish Football Association (SPL) has committed over the years to encourage and foster this growing interest. Through women’s football development projects, the SPL has - jointly with the FIFA Forward programme - started developing three different projects involving women coaches mentoring, leadership programmes and women’s league club development and marketing.

With the aim of raising the level of women’s football and helping improve the technical quality of play, experienced and qualified coaches were selected to develop and lead the projects. The SPL work in close co-operation with the network of coaches in the nation's women's league, and also started organising educational workshops, with the additional possibility to plan coaching workshops abroad on a yearly basis.

“Ex-players are a very important group to support and encourage women to continue playing football” explained Marianne Miettinen, head of performance for U-19 women's head coaches at the SPL, who added “most women don’t think they would be qualified enough to become a coach, that’s why empowering and encouraging them is critical.

"In 2017, we educated five more mentors to start one national and five regional mentoring groups. For the national group, there will be selected potential female coaches from the local surroundings, five to ten coaches for each group this year.

"Thanks to FIFA’s support, we believe this project will leave a long-lasting legacy and we will continue developing our players development plan in the upcoming years during the club tours we are undertaking in spring and autumn. Personally, I’m always proud whenever a young player joins the national team. That’s the legacy this project is leaving behind."

The Finnish women’s football team now has a number of players who are considered to be among the best in women’s football, such as Laura Osterberg Kalmari, Sanna Valkonen and Anne Mäkinen. Hopefully, through the impact created by these new development initiatives, more girls will start dreaming and believing that one day they could also become stars of the national team like their current heroes.