The Irish Football Association has launched a new strategy aimed at boosting the development of girls’ and women’s football in Northern Ireland.
The ‘Growing the Game - Maximising Impact’ strategic plan confirms the association’s commitment to continue investing heavily in girls’ and women’s football, growing the game from the grassroots up.
The new plan - it covers the period 2019-2024 - sets ambitious targets to increase women’s participation levels. One of the key aims is to double the number of registered female players from 1600 to 3200 over the next five years.
The strategic plan also provides a framework to strengthen women’s clubs and their volunteer base, improve infrastructure, promote leadership and effective governance and to encourage more women to take up coaching, refereeing or administration roles within the game.
Irish FA President David Martin said: “This fresh vision is in keeping with the Irish Football Association’s overarching strategy for the game we all love, which is to promote, foster and develop football for all.
“Through the plan we want to build on the foundations laid in recent years and to establish new targets that will benefit the women’s and girls’ game here.
“Ultimately we want as many girls and women as possible to enjoy football, whether as a player, coach, referee, administrator or volunteer.”
The chief guest at the strategy launch, Nadine Kessler, Head of Women’s Football at UEFA, said: “This is what we want to see across all 55 of our associations. The work that is done here in Northern Ireland in developing women’s and girls’ football is fantastic because it is based on serious commitment and it delivers right across the community.”
The former FIFA World Player of the Year, who has three Women’s Champions League winners’ medals in her collection, added: “I am really looking forward to following the progress of this strategy and I am so glad to be here for the launch.”
Using the power of football for health, education and social development, boosting the domestic game, raising the profile of girls’ and women’s football and striving for better performances at international level are also among the goals within the strategy.
Increasing performance levels among Northern Ireland’s elite players, growing the number of small-sided games centres for girls’ teams, expanding youth leagues and encouraging more schools to create girls’ teams complete the elements of the plan.