Saturday 22 April 2023, 09:00

FIFA represented at Latvian Women in Sport conference

  • The conference focused on a number of diverse topics facing women in sport

  • FIFA Senior Technical Development Manager Belinda Wilson was one of the key speakers

  • Latvian Football Federation aim to overtake Basketball as the number one female participation sport

The Latvian Football Federation recently hosted an international conference at Riga Technical University on 13 April, devoted to strengthening and widening the role of women in sport. The conference concentrated on a number of diverse topics including the challenges facing women in sport; how to combine being a professional athlete with motherhood; and the increasing career opportunities for women inside and outside of the sporting arena. As well as a strong representation from football, participants from other Latvian sports bodies, including the Volleyball Federation, Handball Federation and the domestic women’s Basketball League presented case studies and discussed challenges.

These included a panel on how to change the stereotype of women in professional sport, and others which critiqued different methods and best practice, to attract more girls and women to become active sports participants. Alongside sports federations, representatives of potential sponsors and commercial partners, women currently actively involved in sports administration, members of the media, and numerous local governmental institutions, the conference was further enriched by speeches from a multitude of football experts. FIFA Senior Technical Development Manager Belinda Wilson, UEFA Senior Women`s Football Development Manager Emma Sykes, Portuguese Football Federation Executive Director Monica Jorge, UEFA Technical Expert Anna Signeul, former German international Josephine Henning and Secretary General of the French Football Federation Laura Georges all took to the stage, or joined via video-link.

Secretary General of the French Football Federation Laura Georges. joins the Women in Sport conference via video link

Reflecting on her participation, Belinda Wilson praised the conference: “It was a great initiative. There was a real potential to develop connections to strengthen the support structures of women’s sport, but also come together to share stories and collaborate together” she said. “All of us in the room, men and women, were there to find solutions to the common challenges many women face within sport, which could also help shape the role of women in wider society in future too.” Most recently in Latvia football, the Latvian Football Federation (LFF) has created a country-wide campaign titled We Have Wings to stimulate the appeal of women’s football in Latvia. The LFF has a clear target to become the number one women’s participation sport in the country, an honour currently held by basketball.

Nina Travkina, Latvia Football Federation's Head of Football Development Department speaks at a Women in Sport conference in Riga

Nina Travkina, Latvia Football Federation’s Head of Women’s Football Development also spoke at the conference. She explained how FIFA’s development programmes will play a role in achieving the aforementioned goal. “We currently have just over 2000 licensed players officially affiliated to clubs. At the LFF we are in the second year of using FIFA’s League Development programme, targeting the funding at strengthening our top division” she told “Later this year, we are also looking to apply for the FIFA Women’s Football Campaign. This will help to sustain our current ‘playmakers’ initiative, which looks to support players make the transition from grassroots football to club football. “Also on our list is the Capacity Building for Administrators programme. The goal here is to up-skill our existing workforce involved in women’s football, as well as identifying new women to support our future growth in the coming years.”

You can learn more about FIFA’s eight women’s football development programmes here.

Key objectives

FIFA will achieve its objectives by executing a five-pronged strategy to:

Govern & lead … strive for gender balance

Every MA will have one spot on its Executive Committee dedicated to the interests of women and by 2026 have at least one woman seated, while by 2022, at least one-third of FIFA committee members will be women. Strengthen and expand the Female Leadership Development Programme and improve professionalisation and regulatory oversight.

Educate and empower

Address and bring focus to specific social and health issues and reach out to NGOs and government stakeholders to develop sustainable projects that improve the lives of women.

Develop and grow … on and off the pitch

By 2022, have women’s football strategies in 100% of member associations, and by 2026, double the number of MAs with organised youth leagues. Expand football in school programmes, create elite academies and increase the number of qualified coaches and referees, vastly improving access to the game for girls.

Showcase the game … improve women’s competitions

Optimise regional qualifying for FIFA competitions and develop those events to build top-level players at a young age. Advance and launch new international competitions and improve the professional club framework.

Communicate & commercialise … broaden exposure & value

Advance awareness of top female athletes and raise the profile of women’s football by enhancing engagement, harnessing technology, implementing a distinct brand strategy and using role models and ambassadors as well as a dedicated Women’s Legends Programme. By 2026, launch a Women’s Football Commercial Programme.