Engaging seminar highlights Asia’s growth in Women’s football
Kuala Lumpur: Women’s football in Asia continued to build on its strong foundations with the conclusion of the second Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Football Development Seminar on Thursday, which brought together some of the world’s leading women’s football experts in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The three-day seminar opened in style as the delegates celebrated the world-class achievements of Japan’s head coach Asako Takakura, who lifted the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Jordan 2018 title in May this year as well as compatriot Futoshi Ikeda, who led the young Nadeshiko to the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s Cup crown in France last month.
AFC Technical Director Andy Roxburgh continued by setting the tone for the seminar with a keynote overview on ‘Football Development in Asia,’ which addressed the five essential development pillars: women’s football, competitions, coaching, grassroots and elite youth.
Thailand’s women national head coach Nuengruthai Srathongvian, who also attended the seminar’s first edition in 2016 said: “Being able to hear from successful coaches like Asako Takakura and Futoshi Ikeda helps reinforce many of the things that we are aiming to achieve."
“Previously, the Football Association of Thailand focused primarily on the men’s side, but today we are more focused than ever to develop a strong grassroots for young girls. From the last seminar, we have continued to grow and now we have several football academies and a sports school, where we scout budding talents, many of whom are participating in the 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Qualifiers.
“We want to give them good international exposure to develop their skills, as they are the future stars of the senior team.”
The second day of the seminar continued to gain momentum with a technical analysis of the highly-successful AFC Women’s Asian Cup Jordan 2018 as well as an in-depth global perspective session by Arijana Demirovic, FIFA’s Women's Football Development Manager.
The seminar also proved to be an invaluable resource for participants who were able to draw insights on best practices and case studies from the Continent’s most promising nations, which include Hong Kong, India and Jordan.
Lebanon women’s football expert Rana Nakhle said: “The seminar is extremely useful for me personally. Women’s football in Lebanon is still at its early stages, and a seminar like this only improves our knowledge and gives us ideas on how to move forward.
“The Lebanese Football Association is beginning to place greater emphasis on women’s development. Former national players have returned to assist with our grassroots movement, and the results are slowly showing, especially in the ongoing AFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019 Round 1 Qualifiers, where Lebanon have secured two consecutive wins.”
The seminar concluded on a high note with the ‘Big Interview’ featuring legendary women’s football coach Nils Nielsen, who was runner-up in the 2017 Best FIFA Women's Coach Award after guiding his native Denmark to the final of the UEFA Women's Euro 2017.
The highly-experienced technician, who was most recently the assistant coach of China PR’s U-20 side, stressed on the need for creating more integrated approaches to women’s and men’s football development while paying tribute to the undeniable growth of the women’s game in Asia.
“Asia is moving like a rapid train, it has world champions, it has the desire, it has the leadership. Some teams have a longer way to go than others, but I believe that Asian football is moving forward together. As long as everyone, all nations, continue to have the ambition to improve, there is no limit to what you can achieve.”