Saturday 17 June 2023, 00:00

FIFA pilot programme aiding FIFA Women’s World Cup™ team preparation

  • FIFA's Women's National Team Preparation Programme is in its pilot phase

  • Programme was initially launched online due to COVID travel restrictions

  • 10 participating member associations (PMAs) at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ are beneficiaries

Football is a game with many facets. Over the decades, it has changed enormously and increased in dynamism and athleticism, in part thanks to numerous innovations. This is equally true, if not even more pronounced, in the women's game. This evolution makes it even more important to provide players with the training, support, and resources they need to play at the highest level in international women's tournaments. This is where FIFA's Women's National Team Preparation Programme (WNTPP), currently in its pilot phase, comes in.

Launched in May 2021 and initially aimed at FIFA member associations from Oceania, the coaching staff of the women's national teams were assigned a mentor to help prepare the players physically for the OFC Women's Nation Cup 2022. Subsequently, more teams were invited to participate and those who chose to do so – eligible teams must not have progressed beyond the group stage of a FIFA Women’s World since 2003 - will work with their mentor until the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand preparation camp.

FIFA's Women's National Team Preparation Programme Vietnam Collage

One of these teams is Vietnam. To help the World Cup debutant prepare for the FIFA Women's World Cup in the best possible way, Dr Elle Turner, fitness, and nutrition expert for players, recently accompanied the team on their trip to Germany. There, Turner spoke about topics as diverse as: the physiological effects of time difference when travelling; nutrition; female health – i.e., better understanding the key differences between male and female athletes and their respective considerations - and the support for players in their recovery after training sessions. Knowledge gaps that the preparation programme aims to fill, by offering tailored physical performance strategies.

The mentoring group are comprised of wide range of backgrounds, including High Performance Coaches, Sports Scientists, Strength and Conditioning Specialists and Applied Researchers. "The pilot provided numerous learning moments for us (FIFA), the mentors, team coaching staff and players. It highlighted the knowledge gap that exists when training female players”, explained Belinda Wilson, FIFA Senior Technical Development Manager. "Many coaches and players provided us with invaluable feedback regarding the various considerations that should be taken into account when training female players."

Players and coaches took the information that was provided and did not allow the circumstances to stop them from progressing. For me this is High-Performance. Finding solutions to challenges, to enable progression.

Belinda Wilson, FIFA Senior Technical Development Manager

“During COVID there were many restrictions and we had one team – Vanuatu during the OFC tournament – who worked together in small groups to do a gym session. They had no access to a gym, so they took some plastic bags and scales down to the beach and filled the bags to the given weight required. They then completed the session, filmed it on their phones and sent it back to the mentor who was working with them, so she could provide feedback, to both coaches and players for their next session" Wilson recalled.

Did You know?

The following member associations who qualified for the FIFAWWC 2023 are participating in the programme: Costa Rica, Denmark, Haiti, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Vietnam, and Zambia.

The FIFA's Women's National Team Preparation Programme (WNTPP) explained:

• Prepares players for major international tournaments by supporting the education and empowerment of the coaching staff • Supports training, preparation, and development of players via tailored physical performance strategies for women. • Educates coaches to effectively coach and develop women players • Creates a community at regional and global level, enabling mutual support among coaches, and supports the broader development of women's football. • Creates best-practice and player development programmes for female players, considering the holistic needs of the players.