AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: The UEFA Assist Football for Women seminar hosted by the All India Football Federation kicked off in the capital on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. The four-day seminar (January 10-13) is a joint venture between the national federation, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and UEFA to enable players, coaches, officials and other leaders and stakeholders within the game to improve their leadership skills and help create a better culture for women’s sport.
The first session of the seminar was inaugurated by the AIFF President Mr Kalyan Chaubey in presence of Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakran and UEFA Head of International relations Ms Eva Pasquier.
Addressing the seminar, Mr Chaubey highlighted the important role of women in human life and how their role needed to be integrated into our sports culture too. “Half of the population on this planet is women. Any development programme must place an emphasis on women’s development to have any chance of progress. Our recently revealed roadmap, ‘Vision 2047’, places huge amount of focus on women’s football,” he said. “We want to improve not just the competitive structure for women’s football, but also create a system which can increase participation at the grassroots.
“Even as India’s standing rises across different metrics, even different sports, football has remained stagnant. It has always been a tough pill to swallow. I’m happy that now we have a new team that is focussed on developing the game in a more wholesome way, and under the leadership of Ms Paqueira and Chris Milnes (UEFA International Relations Project Specialist), I hope this seminar helps bridge a new frontier for women’s football in India.”
“This seminar provides a great opportunity for women working in different areas of football to build capacity, learn new skills and even sharpen existing skills,” Dr Prabhakaran said, addressing the participants at the workshop. “UEFA’s support is extremely valued and appreciated. Our target is to be within the top eight in Asia by 2026, and that is achievable. The bigger challenge is how we engage more girls with football. The participants here are ambassadors, and I hope this seminar will help you see your huge role in doing so.”
“We are happy to be here for this seminar. If you see, we haven't called it women’s football because we believe we need more participation for women in sport, in football, whether it's on or off the pitch,” Ms Paqueira said.
“Looking at ‘Vision 2047’ it is clear to us that there is a concentrated desire to grow women’s football. But the federation can’t do this alone, they need support from everyone. The participants in this room are important stakeholders. I hope this seminar can help teach best practices, show success stories and roadmaps that other federations have followed to get where they are today. It is feasible if there is support from the ground.”
Participants for the four-day workshop include many current and former players, coaches, and administrators within the women’s game in the country. Indian captain Ashalata Devi and players Bala Devi, Aditi Chauhan, Dangmei Grace and Dalima Chhibber were among the attendees on the first day. India legend Padmashri Oinam Bembem Devi was also among the participants.
“It is a good opportunity for many of us who work in the women’s game to learn about new practices, burnish our leadership skills and explore ways to expand participation among girls in the country,” Bembem said. “I commend the federation and UEFA for organising it and look forward to learning from the experience.”