FIFA Academies helping girls' elite development in Portugal
12- to 17-year-olds benefiting from funding of regional centres
Project aims to boost talent pools for future national teams
While the women’s game is enjoying a rapid rise around the globe, girls up and down the Iberian Atlantic coast are enjoying a helping hand in trying to reach their full potential.
Across Portugal, girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are getting access to elite development in 20 – and soon to be 22 – FIFA Academies across the country, which are aiming to see more and more talented youngsters guided towards the very top of the game.
Being used as a tool to enhance the and develop the nation’s elite structures already in place, the FIFA Academies project comes as part of a new approach from FIFA, working in line with the latest Women's Football Strategy, in providing sustainable development which works to the present goals of a member association.
With the aim of being high impact across an 18-month period, funding and kit have been provided to the regional centres up and down the country. They in turn are offering weekly sessions for those selected to take part, complementing players’ usual club training, with supervision from national team coaches, as well as a national tournament to aid scouting for national teams and offer competitive experience.
“We have many young female players who don’t have the chance to compete,” Carlos Miragaia, Aveiro Football Association District Coach, explained. “Now we have created an U-15 championship with seven teams, something unique in Portugal.
“That way we will not only be able to increase the number of players but also their quality and technique, too. In the medium term, Aveiro could become a reference for women’s football in our country.”
The project’s goal is to provide players with the knowledge and expertise to fulfil their potential, allow for smoother transitions into national teams and guide them towards the likes of competing in international competitions and possible futures in the women’s game.
The strategic planning also aims to leave the tools of success with Member Associations to take forward. The Portuguese Football Federation’s role was integral when developing the elite environment for the girls to thrive in at the FIFA Academies, while monthly technical reports from each centre provide the building blocks to take the lessons learned into the future.