Females in football celebrated through She Can and the World Cup

She Can

With the widely anticipated 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup just around the corner, it is becoming ever so more important to teach, support and empower young Australian females about their rightful place in sport.

It is acknowledged that being involved in sports can assist in breaking down gender stereotypes, improve the self-esteem of women and girls, and add to the advancement of leadership and strategic skills.

However, with all the positives of female participation in sports, it is a shame to see that young girls aged 11-17 in Australia have a lower retention rate in sports compared to their male counterparts of the same age.

Tackling this problem head-on, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted jointly in Australia and New Zealand, is expected to be a celebration of women’s football in both countries.

Showcasing the footballing talent of females all across the globe, the World Cup is bound to supercharge women’s football in Australia and New Zealand. The hope is to increase future female participation, starting in grassroots programs.

Proactive in addressing this same issue, Sydney FC has recently unveiled its new grassroots initiative, the ‘She Can’ program.

The She Can Program was developed by Sydney FC to break down barriers to sports faced by young girls across the country. It involves both practical and theoretical elements that hope to provide participants with skills and a more in-depth understanding of their own support networks. The program acknowledges that barriers to participation can be overcome as they arise and encourages girls to continue to play their chosen sport in the future.

Rolling out the program in late 2022, students from Illawarra Sports High School were the first to take part in She Can.

The female participants discussed many important topics that young girls could potentially be too nervous or afraid to talk about, such as confidence, leadership, menstruation, body image, and relationships.

A young female participant expressed her gratefulness to the program in a statement:

“She Can has allowed me to open up and talk to the girls about things I wouldn’t normally talk about.”

Mirroring the same gratification, another participant added:

“I have also been able to learn more about who to talk to if I have issues with different things that might put me off taking part in sport.”

The Director of Sport at Illawarra Sport High School, Amy Child, was excited about the opportunity her students had to take part in the program. She spoke about the importance of the program via press release:

“It’s really important for girls to be involved in programs like She Can so that they remain in sport, and also become engaged in lifelong activity and start to overcome and think about the barriers to dropping out of sport.”

Sydney FC Foundation Chair, Jenny Abood is proud of the ‘She Can’ program, addressing her club’s pleasure in a statement:

“Sydney FC is a club known for supporting and developing champion women footballers. We are proud of what our women have achieved domestically and offshore over the last 15 years and now to roll out the She Can Program to keep young girls playing sport is fabulous,” she said.

“Our Board appreciate the importance of such a program, especially given the heightened interest in the beautiful game as we approach the Women’s World Cup this year, hosted in Australia.”

Sydney FC’s Premium Partner Under Armour supported the program by providing participants with a sports bra each to use during and after the program.

Currently, across the globe, different initiatives are designed to support and empower women. Similar to the ‘She Can’ program of Sydney FC, ‘Supporting Her Education Changes a Nation’ (SHE CAN) was developed in 2011. This initiative is aimed at building global female leadership by equipping and empowering talented low-opportunity women from post-conflict and climate-challenged countries with the education, mentorship, and leadership skills needed to change their nations and the world.

The Australia and New Zealand 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins on July 20, with record crowds expected to attend.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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