Friday 12 April 2019, 10:28

OFC Members inspiring and empowering women in Vanuatu

  • OFC Member Associations gathered in Vanuatu for Women's Football Conference

  • Sixth and final regional conference held across FIFA confederations in the last year

  • Next meeting sees global convention in Paris on eve of the Women's World Cup

As the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Trophy travelled through Asia on its promotional tour, Port Vila, on the South-Pacific island of Efate in Vanuatu hosted the last of six regional Women’s Football Conferences organised across each of the FIFA confederations over the course of the last year.

The event, designed to introduce the FIFA Women’s Football Strategy to the OFC affiliated Member Associations took place over three days (27-29 March). Bringing together FIFA and OFC representatives, general secretaries and administrators from all 11 OFC member associations, it discussed key issues around the development of the women’s game and the empowerment of women in football.

The conference kicked off with an interactive leadership workshop led by Karl Lines, FIFA Leadership Consultant, who aimed to inspire those responsible for women’s football within the MAs.

“Empowerment is about building confidence, self-esteem and educating our people in order for them to deliver with passion and conviction,” said Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer.

“The first thing we need to do in our region is to change our mindset” was the message from Lambert Maltock, OFC and Vanuatu Football Federation President as he opened Day 2 of the Conference alongside Franck Castillo, OFC Secretary General, Henry Vira, Director General of the Vanuatu Ministry of Youth Development and Sport and Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer.

Presentations and discussions around FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy and the women’s football context in Oceania were led by Sarai during the second part of the morning. In addition, Emma Evans, the OFC’s recently appointed Women’s Football Development Officer, also presented the OFC Women’s Football Strategy reiterating “how seriously Oceania is taking women’s football”.

Over the next two days, interactive sessions around how developing strategies help grow and improve women’s football inspired and motivated the member associations.

Andrew Pragnell, CEO of the New Zealand Football, who came third in last year’s U-17 Women’s World Cup shared about the importance of having a strategy as a foundation for all activity: “After couple of years of dedicated research to understand what the development needs were for young people, a framework to cater to each age-group was put in place.”.

As the event progressed, the goals laid out in FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy became realistic operational objectives that will be implemented across the OFC’s 11 member associations as they strive to develop women’s football in the region. The conference also enabled FIFA to gain better understanding of the context of Women’s Football within the OFC region and in particular demonstrate to all participating associations the importance of working as a united confederation.

As the conference drew to a close, the attendees paid a special tribute to Just Play Project Manager Emmie Sope, who sadly passed away in July 2018. Originally from Vanuatu, the event was hosted in Port Vila to celebrate and commemorate her tireless work across the Pacific Region advocating for women and children, while pushing to see football become the number one sport.

As the series of introductory Women’s Football Conferences drew to a close, the momentum continues to gather ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 this summer.

The 211 Member Associations will meet again to discuss the challenges they have faced and the progress they have made at the first-ever Women’s Football Convention taking place in Paris on the eve of the kick-off of the single biggest women’s sporting event in the world.