Though now in its fifth year, 2015 will go down as a year that FIFA’s Live Your Goals program achieved a new level of success. Far more young female players across a greater diversity of regions and cultures were introduced to football through the program. Over the past few weeks nations as diverse as Dominican Republic, Cameroon and Malta all conducted events, thus providing just a small sample of the program’s broad reach.
First introduced in 2011, FIFA Live Your Goals program is intended to connect more young girls and women to football, creating positive experiences in the process. The program did that over the past 12 months like never before, as Live Your Goals reached new levels of popularity across FIFA’s Member Associations.
The raw numbers are impressive. Some 50 Member Associations implemented the program this year, organising 144 events with over 40,000 young female players participating. It is a massive increase on recent years where the numbers were 13,738 in 2014 and 8,700 in 2013. The Live Your Goals program is just one of nine FIFA development programmes targeted specifically for women’s football.
In some ways, it is appropriate that the program enjoyed such a breakthrough given 2015 has been a momentous year for women’s football, both on the field and administratively.
Mayi Cruz Blanco, FIFA’s Senior Women’s Football Development Manager, says that while 2015 has seen a massive period of growth for Live Your Goals, there is determination to build the game further: “It has been a breakthrough year for Live Your Goals with a record number of countries participating in the programme and events organised across the globe,” she said. “Live Your Goals means the start of a journey for tens of thousands of girls in the game. So many Member Associations have embraced the programme and FIFA would like to see this figure grow even further in the years to come.”
*Building a legacy *
The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada was 2015’s headline success for women’s football. But away from the spotlight, Live Your Goals continues to be a key element of legacy programmes created around FIFA’s women's tournaments.
In the build-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, FIFA visited the 23 qualified member associations through the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Live Your Goals Tour. This took the Women’s World Cup Trophy across the world to promote women’s football and help qualified member associations examine their domestic development.
In Canada hundreds of girls from different cities participated in FIFA Live Your Goals events, the High Performance Pathway for the women’s national team was created, and enhanced coaching education for females was implemented. Today, one million children are engaged across Canada through a new physical literacy programme intended to inspire children and youth, as well as their families and communities, to reap the benefits of lifelong football participation.
Already Jordan, hosts of the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, have been highly active with Live Your Goals. Building the next generation of players is an important and sometimes unheralded part of the game. But the work being done at grassroots level in Jordan is particularly poignant as the nation prepares to be the first west Asian nation to host a FIFA women’s tournament.
The coming year is shaping as another massive year for women’s football, and the surge in momentum provided by the Live Your Goals program is playing a crucial role.