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June 29, 2013
Women's development programmes top UEFA's agenda

Karen Espelund, Chairwoman and Member of UEFA Executive Committee
by Shaikha Alshaalan, AIPS Young Reporter, Bahrain
LAUSANNE, June 29, 2013 - UEFA is committed in developing women’s’ football to uplift the level of play and the technical aspect of the sport across its 54 member associations.

UEFA executive committee member, Karen Espelund told that the European football governing body has set aside 24 million Euros for the 2012-2016 season to support the women’s game and also boost coaching and refereeing.

"We now have a lot of associations applying for this initiatives because there are lots of girls who really want to play football but they do not have the chance to do that for so many reasons. We also need to use the experience of the women players who left the field for refereeing and coaching programs,” said Espelund the first woman to join the UEFA Executive Committee, on the sidelines of the European under-17 women’s cup final that Poland won 1-0 on Friday in Nyon.

She is the only female woman serving on the committee and also heads the UEFA’s Women Football Committee.

"We have to change this aspect in the football world slowly. We need to bring the women experiences because it will affect the football game positively,” she explained regarding having more female administrators on the board and other management positions.

“We have women everywhere, in and out of the field and not only as players around the teams, but we still need them to be in the administration.”

She was first co-opted into the executive in 2011 before being granted the full voting rights last year.

Espelund started he career in football as a player of the Trondheims-Ørn club and played more than 300 matches, and served as club board member when she was only 17. She joined the Norwegian Football Association first as a member of the Women’s Committee before serving as vice-president of the Executive Committee from 1996 to 1999, when she was appointed as the General Secretary.

She held this position for 10 years. During her reign Norway became the only country to win the women’s Olympics, World Cup and European Championships.

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