Wednesday 04 December 2019, 13:58

A vital step forward for women’s football in Asia

  • First FIFA/AFC Women’s Club Championship a great success

  • Japanese team Nippon TV Beleza are historic first winners

  • Competition financed by the FIFA Confederation Development Fund

As the Nippon TV Beleza players held the trophy up to the sky, their joy was palpable. The Japanese team had just won the FIFA/AFC Women's Club Championship 2019 after two victories and a draw in the round-robin tournament.

It was the first women's club competition to be held in Asia, with four teams competing for the title in Yongin, Korea Republic. Finishing in second to fourth place respectively were Jiangsu Suning Ladies (CHN), Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels (KOR) and Melbourne Victory (AUS). The tournament symbolises an important step forward for women's football.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “Women’s football has always been an integral area of development for the AFC and the remarkable success of our teams underlines the incredible strides Asia continues to make in women’s football globally.”

“Competitions are one of the major drivers of development and the Women’s Club Championship reinforces our commitment to further strengthen the foundations for the women’s game in Asia so that it can scale even greater heights.”

The FIFA/AFC Women's Club Championship 2019 was financed by the FIFA Confederation Development Fund, which is dedicated to the development of women’s football in all six confederations and an integral part of FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy.

The fund offers confederations the opportunity to receive up to USD 300,000. The feedback so far has been extremely positive: all confederations have showed a great interest in the programme and each will deliver a project to foster the women’s game in their region.

The type of projects range from strategy workshops and capacity-building programmes to development programmes, coach education, and organising youth national team as well as club competitions.

Sara Booth, FIFA’s Head of Women's Football Competitions, said: “This was a critical milestone for the development of women’s football in the AFC. Providing a women’s club competition where players in the top clubs in the region get the opportunity to compete against each other is fundamental for the growth of the game. The quality of football on display throughout the competition was very impressive and we hope that this will only be the beginning of a thriving continental club championship for women in the AFC.”

While the result is important – after all, football is ultimately about winning and losing – it is not everything and sometimes, everyone involved feels like a winner. That was certainly the feeling among the teams of the FIFA/AFC Women's Club Championship 2019.