In tandem with the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012, a training course for women’s football coaches was held in Baku between 19 and 29 September. No fewer than 31 participants (20 men and 11 women) from 14 different Russian-speaking countries were in attendance at the FIFA-run event, the goal of which was to take stock of and improve the level of women's football in eastern Europe and central Asia.

Over the years, the region in question has not enjoyed a huge amount of success in terms of qualifying its nations for major events in the women’s game. In fact, only Russia have previously appeared on the world stage, at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2004 and 2006, and the senior FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 1999 and 2003. 

During the opening ceremony at the Qafqaz Hotel, Thierry Regenass, FIFA’s Director of Member Associations and Development, made a point of praising attendees’ exemplary commitment and dedication, and reminded them of the crucial role that they play in the development of football in their respective countries. 

A few days later, this statement was backed up by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, who stopped by the event on 22 September. “You’ve been doing some incredible work in your own countries to develop women’s football. I congratulate you for that and can only encourage you to continue doing what you’ve started,” he said.

“However, don’t forget that, in order for the women’s game to develop, it is crucial to have as many coaches as possible working in the domain. The expansion of women’s football lies with them,” added the head of world football's governing body.

For the women’s game to develop, it is crucial to have as many coaches as possible working in the domain. The expansion of women’s football lies with them.

Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA President.

The 31 participants (two per country, except for Azerbaijan, who as hosts were allowed to invite five), all coaches of youth teams in their homeland, and in possession of UEFA’s B licence or the AFC’s C licence for the most part, were guided through the course by FIFA instructors Beatrice von Siebenthal, Anna Signeul and Nilufar Khodjaeva. 

During 11 days of intense training, delegates were put through practical and theoretical sessions focusing on the role of the coach, tactical work, attacking play, spotting young talent, goalkeeper training and last but not least, match analysis.

In addition, trainees were given the opportunity to attend ten first-round matches at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, in order to analyse and carefully examine the style of play exhibited by the sides involved in the competition, with the idea being that they could feasibly apply what they learned to their own teams back home.

An enriching experience
At the end of the course, attendees appeared extremely satisfied with their 11 days of training, and were effusive in their praise for the event. “It’s the first time that I’ve taken a FIFA course and I’m absolutely delighted with how it went. It was really productive and provided plenty of useful knowledge,” said Shiban Shirdanov, part of the Azerbaijani delegation.

“It was interesting to share my experience with other trainees, to ascertain our standing and learn how much work is required to reach the level of the top names in the business,” added the Zagatala U-17 women’s coach. 

“Everything went brilliantly. The instructors were very competent and always on hand to dole out useful advice to us,” said Belorussian participant Irina Bulyhina. “We’d like to thank FIFA and are hopeful that this kind of course will be held again, so that football in the region can keep changing for the better,” she continued, adding with a smile, “Soon, other teams will be analysing our matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

FIFA organises training courses for coaches involved in women’s football expressly for FIFA U-17 and U-20 tournaments. The main objectives of the courses are to provide a platform for participants to share their respective experiences and to enhance their own professional development.