UEFA has today launched a ground-breaking campaign, aimed at transforming perceptions of women’s football and encouraging girls to take up and continue playing the game. This new initiative will see UEFA working closely with its 55 member associations in order to ensure that football is the number one sport for women across Europe by 2020.
The Together #WePlayStrong campaign gets underway with an inspirational film that will be aired just before kick-off of Thursday’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Cardiff between Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain.
UEFA’s women’s campaign will also be promoted in TV spots to be shown not only at the Women’s Champions League final, but also at the men’s UEFA Champions League final between Juventus and Real Madrid CF, also taking place in Cardiff on Saturday.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin hailed the initiative. “Increasing the participation and the role of women in football has been one of my main objectives, both before and after I became UEFA President,” he said.
“We need to change attitudes about women’s football, and give women of all ages more encouragement and opportunities to play. The women’s game has so much potential, and I believe that the Together #WePlayStrong movement can be a driving force across our 55 national associations to achieve this.”
The campaign was also heralded by UEFA women’s football advisor Nadine Kessler, 2014 FIFA World Player of the Year and UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe: “Whether you are playing at the UEFA Women’s EURO or in the park with friends,” she said, “football has the potential to give you so many positive things in life. It teaches you about being part of a team and the need to show respect to both your team-mates and your opponents.”
“The Together #WePlayStrong campaign can change perceptions and make it cool for teenage girls to play football,” she added. “If we manage to achieve this, we will be on our way to reaching our goal of making football the number one sport for girls around Europe.”
The campaign also has the backing of the European Commission, with the Commissioner for Sport Tibor Navracsics adding that it will give a welcome boost to women’s football. “Football is so much more than a game. It promotes social inclusion and has the ability to transcend race, religion and gender,” he said.
“UEFA and the European Commission share a number of common objectives and I am delighted that European football’s governing body has embarked on Together #WePlayStrong, which is touching on an area that has been neglected for too long. I hope this will encourage more girls and women to #BeActive!”
Aimed primarily at girls between the ages of 13 and 17, the campaign is founded upon the results of research conducted by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, which has investigated the psychological, physical and emotional benefits for girls playing football.
This research showed that playing football can significantly boost confidence, happiness and self-image - helping young girls to make friends and learn vital life skills.
The majority of girls who took part in the research felt that being part of a team made them stronger, and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing together. Whatever the outcome of their games, it was the shared experience that they valued, rather than winning.
A crucial aim of the Together #WePlayStrong campaign is to make teenage girls aware that football is also a game for girls, while highlighting the benefits to them of playing the sport, and pointing the way to grassroots opportunities in their area. The campaign is supported by UEFA’s 55 member associations, as well as and a number of celebrity ambassadors from the world of sport, entertainment and music.
Today’s launch kicks off a series of events, media activities and local grassroots initiatives across Europe, leading up to this summer’s UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 tournament in the Netherlands, and continuing into 2018.