The Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) commitment to leverage on the power of football to empower communities and strengthen the Women’s game across the Continent was further underlined on Saturday, June 24 at the ‘Empowering Girls through Football’ social responsibility seminar in Hong Kong.
More than 200 coaches, national team players and school teachers benefited from a diverse range of engaging sessions, which were organised by the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) and funded by the AFC Dream Asia Foundation.
The first-of-its-kind seminar represents the successful legacy programme from the 2017 AFC-Premier League (PL) Football Social Development Conference. Since its inauguration in August 2017, the ‘Empowering Girls through Football’ programme has reached more than 3,800 girls in the 7 to 14 age group, across 48 primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong.
AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said, “The AFC Vision and Mission has outlined social responsibility as a key focus area. At the forefront of this ambition has been the desire to harness the power of football and provide greater access for everyone, regardless of their background, gender, social status or ability to experience and grow through the joys of football.”
“We are pleased to be able to bring our Mission to life for women’s football in Hong Kong and together with our Member Associations and international partners; the AFC will continue to empower more communities, better engage our future generation and enrich the most vulnerable segments of society across the Continent.”
One of the highlights of the seminar was the emphasis on football as a tool to support character building and establishing vital transferable skills sets from the pitch to the classroom. Participants were quick to praise the sessions on job opportunities in the local football industry as well as insights on various key functions of the game’s larger ecosystem.
“Today’s seminar has been a good reminder of the lifelong values we obtain through football. Football can inspire a competitive spirit; it instils leadership, commitment and the values of fair play and teamwork. It can help us live healthier, fuller, more meaningful lives,” said former player Ella Ko, who is currently a physical education teacher. Her daughter is also amongst thousands of children engaged as part of HKFA’s ‘Empowering Girls through Football’ outreach efforts.
In addition to social responsibility and elite football development, participants were also given the opportunity to widen their knowledge on the intrinsic correlation between football, health and social cohesion.
HKFA Chief Executive Mark Sutcliffe expressed his gratitude to the AFC, adding the seminar would strengthen the foundations to deliver better quality programmes for women’s and girl’s football development in the longer-term.
HKFA CEO Mark Sutcliffe said, “Women’s and girl’s football has been growing steadily in recent years and represents a key pillar of development for HKFA in the long term. This seminar is a timely opportunity to build on the existing momentum and we are grateful to the AFC and all our stakeholders for sharing their expertise and commitment to inspire hope in tomorrow’s generation of women footballers in Hong Kong.”