Author Topic: Uruguay celebrates a decade of growth  (Read 1073 times)

Offline David

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Uruguay celebrates a decade of growth
« on: January 16, 2007, 11:37:42 AM »
Interesting FIFA piece about women's football in Uruguay :

It has been ten years since the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) set up a Women's Football Board to develop the discipline in the South American nation. And now, after a decade of hard work and self-sacrifice from everyone involved, the women's game is gradually carving out a space for itself in Uruguayan sport.

The ten-year anniversary was marked at the Federation's 2006 Award Ceremony held at the Estadio Centenario's Sala Franzini in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo. "All those who have been involved in this activity and who have been doing their bit since the very start deserve this show of recognition and gratitude," Alda Novell, President of the Women's Football Board at the AUF, told FIFA.com.

Present at the ceremony were a host of important figures from Uruguayan sporting and football circles, including the president of the AUF, Dr. Jose Luis Corbo, the National Sporting Director, Professor Fernando Caceres, and the first president of women's football at the AUF, Professor Matilde Reisch. "Four years ago at my first [award] ceremony, I remember that our numbers were considerably fewer. I feel that this [celebration] is a positive thing and proof that although we have a long way to go, we're on the right path," Novell said.

One of the most significant awards was for the national women's side and their coach Juan Jose Duarte, who made history by finishing third at the recent Sudamericano (South American Championship) in Mar del Plata. Novell said that what Duarte's charges had achieved was 'a remarkable feat', before going on to add: "Finishing third behind the region's two powerhouses, Brazil and Argentina, was incredible. For all of us involved - officials, coaching staff and the squad - this is a reward for our hard work and will motivate us to keep on striving towards our goals, in spite of all the difficulties."

Uruguay's progress at international level will be tested again later this year at the Pan-American Tournament in Rio de Janeiro, courtesy of their third-place finish in the Sudamericano. "We're already busy planning everything for this tournament," says Novell. "Fortunately, we have a first-class coach in Duarte, who is fully focused on this challenge. After all the hard work he has put in, the coach is now beginning to see real dividends."

Widening the game's base
At local level, the women's league is comprised of eight clubs, who contest an Apertura (Opening) and Clausura (Closing) Championship every year. At present, Rampla Juniors are the team to beat and have just claimed a historic sixth successive title. Furthermore, they also boast the league's best player in Luciana Gomez, as well as the season's top-scorer Alejandra Laborda. Topping off an already impressive campaign, the team also picked up the league's Fair Play Trophy.

"The fact that we've been part of the Association and have had a women's league for ten years now is very positive, but we still have a long way to go in terms of our development. If we are to grow, then we have to overcome economic as well as cultural barriers," says Novell.

Asked to explain in more detail the challenges being faced, the women's football chief put it thus: "In terms of the economic situation, we know exactly where we stand. If even the traditional men's clubs are struggling to make ends meet nowadays, how can we expect there to be money for us? Even though we've shown that it's possible to make progress with a completely amateur set-up, there is no escaping the financial reality."

"Then there is the cultural question. Our goal now is not so much to increase the number of teams in the league, but rather to promote women's football in Uruguayan society. That is why we're working with other bodies outside the AUF, such as the Ministry of Sport and several educational bodies so that we can incorporate the game into the school sport's curriculum, for example. If we are successful in that respect, and in the social contribution we're making, then we can develop the youth and under-age teams and eventually provide players for the country's senior team."

Novell finished on a very positive note, telling FIFA.com: "I've always said that (this journey) with women's football is almost like having a little sister. She comes along unannounced, and in the beginning there is a bit of mistrust. However, by the time she reaches ten, the older siblings have grown to love their younger sister and end up taking her hand and helping her grow. Hopefully, we can continue to grow and, one day, compete with the biggest and the best."



http://www.fifa.com/en/womens/index/0,1625,129520,00.html?articleid=129520