Sunday 04 December 2016, 10:08

Rising participation figures and inspiration for leaders

While the eyes of the world were on the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea, November was also a successful month for the Live Your Goals programme, with numerous events held around the globe. FIFA’s aim is to use this initiative to get even more women and girls interested in football and encourage them to play the game themselves and gather positive experiences. takes a look back at the activities of the past month, when young girls put their ball skills to the test at festivals in locations as diverse as Singapore, Uruguay, Palestine and India.

Uruguay: AUF organises its second festival The AUF (Asociación Uruguaya de Fútbol) hosted its second Live Your Goals festival in bright sunshine on Sunday 6 November, as more than 150 talented youngsters aged between six and 13 gathered with family and friends at the Estadio Jose Nasazzi in Uruguayan capital Montevideo to enjoy a series of games, relay races and football drills. AUF chose to host the event at the stadium to mark 20 years since the country’s first women’s football match was played there in 1996.

Former players and coaches shared their wisdom with the participants and guided them through a series of exercises led by Prof. Juliana Castro. Once the sporting activities were over, the girls were given the chance to bombard their trainers and former internationals Daiana Farias, Yamila Badell and Stefania Maggiolini with questions, which proved to be a lot of fun for all concerned.

Palestine: Final event of the year held in Ramallah The PFA (Palestinian Football Association) continued its commitment to the Live Your Goals campaign by hosting the country’s fourth festival of the year in Ramallah on 11 November after previous events in Jerusalem in April, Bethlehem in July and Nablus in September. Around 110 attendees travelled to this city in the West Bank to receive training from 25 coaches who gave up several hours of their time to put the girls through their paces.

Many of the participants were playing football for the first time, and the aim – and hope – of the initiative is that they will continue to do so in the future. The programme seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game in every corner of Palestine and strengthen cooperation with the Ministry of Education to give young players the opportunity to realise their footballing dreams at school.

Singapore: Participation steadily rising Another year of LYG activities also came to a close in Singapore, southeast Asia’s smallest state by area, in November. Over 450 girls under the age of 12 gathered at the Serangoon Stadium to take part in a festival organised by the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) to let off steam and show off their skills. Guest of honour and FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong was also present to follow the fortunes of the 39 teams taking part in small tournaments in the U-8, U-10 and U-12 age groups.

Despite the competitive element, the children’s smiling faces suggested that plenty of fun was had by all. "It’s extremely encouraging to see more girls here taking part compared with a year ago," said Julie Teo, FAS’s General Manager for Grassroots and Women’s Football. "We were very pleasantly surprised when registration began, as we never expected the number of participants to almost double this year! It illustrates football’s growing popularity among girls, and we’re keen to build on that to ensure that even more girls can get involved in similar events,” she continued. “We hope this will kindle their passion for the sport."

India: Inspiration for emerging leaders The latest event in India proved that Live Your Goals can do much more than just encourage young girls to play football. The campaign also helps to inspire young female leaders. In late November, the country’s national football association organised a FIFA grassroots course to follow an LYG festival in Punjab, with 62 youngsters taking part.