UEFA has been continuing its drive to help national associations establish strategies and plans for women's football, as part of its KISS (Knowledge & Information Sharing Scenario) programme and the innovative Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP), which is proving to be a resounding success in pushing the women's game forward across the continent.
KISS workshops have been held recently in Skopje, capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Minsk, Belarus, in which groups of national associations have been given crucial expert guidance in taking women's football forward in each country. The associations concerned have been earmarked for a more personal and tailor-made assistance to encourage their women's football development.
The workshop in Minsk was attended by delegates from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Latvia; and the event in Skopje featured the associations of Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Israel, Lithuania, Moldova, FYROM and Slovenia.
Experts who imparted vital advice were Sheila Begbie, head of girls' and women's football at the Scottish Football Association (SFA); Karen Espelund, chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee and UEFA Executive Committee member; Rachel Pavlou, national women's football development manager at the English Football Association (FA); and Heike Ulrich, head of girls' and women's football at the German Football Association (DFB).
A fruitful duo of gatherings presented the opportunity for associations in similar situations to share their experiences in nurturing the women's game in their respective countries, and offered them the chance to learn more about designing long-term development plans, to further optimise the funding which UEFA is giving them within the WFDP.
Each association analysed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within their own women's football set-up, and explored individual plans for advancing the women's game. All of them welcomed the best practice know-how and expertise provided by the respective experts. The various associations have now been asked to draw up a women's football development plan by the end of September.
UEFA has received positive feedback from the associations who attended the workshops. Here are some of the comments made to the European body by participants:
• "It is great that UEFA has organised small workshops for the countries with the same level/situation/problems. It was an active workshop, and it was great to get the opportunity to listen to others, get thinking and get creating."
• "Good selection of participating associations. Great topics and tailor-made approach to national associations with similar difficulties and positions in terms of women's football development."
• "After this KISS Women's Football Development workshop, it's become much more clear to me what we need to do next and how to do it."
The WFDP is being supported over the period until 2016 via UEFA's HatTrick assistance scheme on behalf of the UEFA member national associations.
The programme envisages expansion at all levels of the sport throughout Europe. The guidance, expertise, advice and resources accompanying the project are intended to give UEFA and its national associations the chance to put ambitious visions into practice, as well as allowing the associations to grow in accordance with their respective needs.
KISS is a programme launched in 2005 by UEFA as part of its continued commitment to promoting solidarity and equality across the European football family.