While the eyes of the footballing world were focused on tournaments such as UEFA EURO 2016 in France and the Copa America Centenario in the USA, promoting young female talent globally remained as vital as ever in June.
Numerous festivals were held around the world as part of FIFA’s Live Your Goals campaign, which aims to use positive experiences to encourage more young girls and women to play the beautiful game. An ever-growing number of nations from different cultures are taking part in this initiative, with events held in 17 countries over the past month alone.
Gambia: Women’s football in the limelight
Women’s football was at the top of the agenda in June in Gambia, the smallest state on the African mainland. Almost 240 girls aged between six and 12 recently took part in entertaining activities in Farafenni, the largest town in the Upper Baddibu district’s North Bank Region. The talented youngsters in attendance represented the school systems of the Lower River (LRR), Upper River (URR), Central River and North Bank Region as well as SOS Kinderdorf (from the URR) [The Gambia river from which the nation takes its name runs through the entire country]. Participants learned basic ball skills, heading and warm-up exercises before splitting into small teams to play matches. The Gambia Football Federation is enlisting the help of the LYG campaign to raise the profile of women’s football across the country.
Azerbaijan: Leaving a legacy
Four years on from the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2012, the impact of the tournament was still tangible in Azerbaijan as this Eastern European nation on the shores of the Caspian Sea held its first festival of 2016 in the north-western region of Gakh. The event was as resounding a success as its predecessors, with 165 girls aged from six to 16 completing an introductory course covering activities such as dribbling, ball control, shooting accuracy and matches on small pitches. The event was full of fun and shared experiences for both the youngsters and their coaches, who took the opportunity to apply what they learned from the UEFA B Licence course they took in 2015. Gulanbar Gasimova led the activities, while retired footballer Rustam Rahimov, Gabala’s Youth and Sport Department head Alovsat Bayramov and deputy head of the Gakh region’s Department of Education Babak Heydarov all took the time to greet the budding young players.
Moldova, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Scotland, Curacao, Gambia, Wales, Czech Republic, Congo DR, Barbados, Rwanda, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Panama, Singapore and Cameroon.