Kuala Lumpur: The future of Asian women’s football is brighter than ever and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) remains committed to continue laying the foundations for the sport to grow at all levels – on and off the pitch.
Through the introduction of various initiatives for its 47 Member Associations, the growth of women’s football has witnessed impressive results. Since 2007, the participation of Member Associations in the qualifiers of the AFC U-16 and AFC U-19 Women’s Championships have increased by 70 per cent and 63 per cent respectively.
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The AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the pinnacle of women’s competition on the Continent, also saw 21 nations, the most teams to participate in the qualifiers to the 2018 showpiece which was staged in Jordan for the first time in its history.
AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “The AFC has put in place many initiatives that benefit both the men and women in the sport. The women’s game has been on the rise in Asia and the AFC is committed to help our MAs unlock this potential.
“Asian women’s football has excelled on the world stage and this is evident as five Asian teams occupy the top 20 in the FIFA World Rankings while Japan emerged as champions in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
"Other Asian teams like DPR Korea and Korea Republic have also won in FIFA age group competitions. It is our hope that more Asian teams will find success on the international stage.”
In efforts to further boost the women’s game, the AFC has also started planning with FIFA to introduce Club women’s football in Asia by staging the AFC Women’s Champions League, which is a pilot project scheduled to begin in December.
The AFC’s initiatives extend outside the pitch, as women form part of the strong workforce in the Confederation. Most recently, the first Saudi Arabian woman Adwa Abdulrahman Al Arifi was appointed on the AFC’s Women Committee.
Meanwhile, Kim Se-in of Korea Republic, Nguyen Thanh Ha of Vietnam, Lau Cheuk Chi of Hong Kong and AFC Executive Committee member Kanya Keomany of Laos made Asian football history following their appointment as the first female match commissioners to take charge of Round 2 of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
In May, the trio of Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita and assistant referees Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi became the first all-female cast to officiate an AFC Cup match between Myanmar’s Yangon United FC and Naga World of Cambodia.
The AFC also broke new ground by being the first Confederation to introduce the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship which was staged in 2015 and 2018 – both editions won by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The AFC aims to strike the perfect balance to ensure that Asian women remain a force in football while supporting females who have - and continue - to play pivotal roles in the success and development of the sport.
And the AFC has celebrated the role of women in the sport through the ‘It’s My Game” campaign featuring females from the vast majority of its Member Associations – including the five female representatives on the AFC Executive Committee from 2015-2019.
The AFC is committed to empowering women in key roles and again has five places on its Executive Committee – more than any other Confederation – for the term 2019 – 2023.
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