Tuesday 23 January 2018, 00:00

New horizons in the development of Mexican football

  • FEMEXFUT is focusing on women’s football and youth development

  • The Copa MX Femenil was held to launch its new headquarters

  • The FIFA Forward Programme contributed to its development

The year 2017 will go down as a key milestone in the development of Mexican football. Following a period of hard work and meticulous planning, one of the most significant steps forward has been the launch of a brand new national women’s football tournament, the Liga MX Femenil.

A dress rehearsal was staged between 3 and 6 May in the form of the Copa MX Femenil. This landmark event, a high-scoring tournament that saw Pachuca crowned champions after defeating Tijuana in the final, was representative of the ambitious project being carried forward by FEMEXFUT at its new headquarters.

“One of the aims that were set when we started building the Nueva Casa del Fútbol, the new home of the Mexican Football Federation and the LIGA MX, was to develop an all-encompassing, state-of-the-art facility for the practice, development and promotion of our sport,” explained Inigo Riestra, Director of International Affairs, to FIFA.com.

Statistics from the Copa MX Femenil:

  • 12 teams took part

  • The competition’s first goal was scored by America’s Daniela Espinosa

  • The most prolific team was Pachuca, who scored 27 goals in four matches

  • The top scorer in the tournament was Pachuca’s Monica Ocampo, with six goals

  • The experienced Mexico international averaged a goal every 31 minutes

Youth football in the spotlight

Since its unveiling in 2016, thanks in part to funding received from the FIFA Forward Football Development Programme to help with the construction of its pitches, FEMEXFUT has been busy making the most of the facilities at its new headquarters in order to propel Mexico’s football development across the board.

With that impressive HQ just over eight hectares in size and boasting an ecological design that harnesses solar energy and recycles part of the water it uses, one of the key aims of the federation’s new mission is to utilise it to develop young talent. In addition to promoting competitions, the organisation is therefore looking to support the training of skilled coaches who will impart the importance of core values to aspiring footballers.

As Riestra said: “The facility, which is undoubtedly up there with the best football federations in the world, boasts five football pitches: three with artificial surfaces, and two with grass. They all meet regulatory standards and each one is equipped with its own dressing rooms.

“The pitches are used by our Academy, which is part of the National Training System. The aim of the former is to contribute to the all-round development of children and young people by teaching basic knowledge of football and promoting values such as inclusion, respect, teamwork and fair play. They are also used for training and practice sessions by our professional referees.”

Key events that have already been held:

  • National team training sessions (men’s and women’s youth teams).

  • Pre-season training for LIGA MX and Ascenso MX clubs.

  • LIGA MX Grassroots Festivals.

  • The Copa Liga MX Femenil 2017 tournament.

  • LIGA MX Under-13 Youth Team tournaments.

  • The finals of the Tercera Division Profesional tournaments.

  • Amateur youth tournaments for various age groups (men’s and women’s).

  • The CONCACAF Programme of Refereeing Excellence.

  • The CONCACAF Under-13 Champions League.

“Projects such as the one developed with the Mexican Football Federation are a clear example of what FIFA Forward Football Development Programme at a global level means and implies", said Jair Bertoni, FIFA's Regional Director for the Americas.

"Thanks to FIFA's financial support for this investment, the FMF now has state-of-the-art facilities where its men's and women's national teams can prepare under optimal conditions. We share the FMF's vision: from the very beginning FIFA believed in the benefits of this infrastructure project. It is therefore only fair to congratulate the Executive and Administration of the FMF. We hope that these good examples can be disseminated in other countries with the help of the FIFA Forward programme."

Boosting women's football, also on the agenda "It's great for us to see every day these kinds of activities involving children of all ages," said Decio de Maria, President of FEMEXFUT. "This is a platform for those who start their careers in the non-professional sector, but also for those who already work at the highest professional level and come to this place. Our commitment is total with the Mexican football family and around the world: to contribute to the growth and development of football in all its facets from these magnificent facilities and spectacular fields that we have built."

The foundations have been laid and it has been an important year for the development of football in Mexico. As 2018 gets underway, the country’s federation will look to continue sowing the seeds of talent to ensure that Mexican men’s and women’s football will reach their full potential over the coming years.