Bareman backs milestone moment

Sarai Bareman and Karina La Blanc during the OFC Women's Strategy Launch. Park Hyatt Hotel, Auckland, Thursday 15th July 2021. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /
Sarai Bareman and Karina La Blanc during the OFC Women's Strategy Launch. Park Hyatt Hotel, Auckland, Thursday 15th July 2021. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /

As a daughter of the Pacific herself, FIFA Chief Women’s Football Sarai Bareman could not be prouder to have witnessed the launch of the inaugural OFC Women’s Football Strategy this week.

Having developed and launched the first-ever global strategy for women’s football in 2018, Bareman has an intimate knowledge of what goes into designing a document that will have a lasting impact on the game, and why it’s necessary to have one.

“Having something mapped on paper with a clear vision, mission and objectives is absolutely essential. The women’s game is evolving quickly and there is a need to continually monitor and evaluate the work we are doing to grow the game to ensure that we are on the right track, and in order to make adjustments where necessary,” she said.

“The ‘All In’ strategy that OFC has developed is excellent. It’s tailor-made to the unique environment of Pacific football and it sets out a plan that is realistic, achievable and considers the current context of the women’s game in Oceania.

“In FIFA, we know that in order to grow the game in a sustainable way – we have to address all areas of the women’s football eco-system. From the grassroots to the elite level, both on and off the pitch. We have to consider communication, marketing, commercialisation and governance as well as capacity building of coaches, players, referees and administrators. 

“The framework that has been laid out in the OFC Women’s Football Strategy does exactly this. With the five priority areas providing a clear guideline and a roadmap for OFC and its 11 Member Associations to take the game forward – I am really excited about what the future holds for the women’s game in the region.”

The five areas the strategy encapsulates include participation, visibility, education, performance and culture with an approach that sets individual targets, specific to each country’s context, which is what Bareman suggests will play a large role in its successful delivery.

“The situation in women’s football is very different to what we see on the men’s side so the need for tailor-made programmes is really important.”

The former CEO of Samoa Football Federation said another exciting aspect of the strategy is the arrival of new competitions, for both clubs and national teams.

“Competitions are a clear driver of development and providing more playing opportunities for women in Oceania is really important. We want Oceania to not only thrive in the social and development aspects of the sport, we want them to thrive at the international level too, to be competitive against the best teams in the world.

“More competitions will help drive this, more playing opportunities will strengthen the level of our players and national teams and it will have a positive impact for all OFC MAs.”

The FIFA Women’s World Cup coming Down Under in 2023 has hastened in a new era of support for women’s football development. Participation is rising, more programmes are being implemented and new competitions are being introduced as the opportunity to join New Zealand’s Football Ferns on the highest stage comes within grasp.

The expansion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to 32 teams increases the possibility for more teams from the OFC to qualify and although there is a chance this could happen as early as 2023, OFC has set its sights on a more realistic goal of seeing two competitive teams represent the region in 2027.

“The spotlight of the world will be on the Pacific in 2023 when we host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. The tournament is the biggest female sporting event in the world and it will highlight the progress that we are making in the women’s game and provide a huge boost of momentum to further grow the game.

“In addition to New Zealand who are our hosts, we now have the possibility for the first time ever, for another team from OFC to qualify for the event. 

“So with that possibility as a driver from the top down, and the OFC strategy acting as a road map from the bottom up, we have all the ingredients we need to see two teams representing OFC in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027.”

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