Women’s World Cup more than just a chance in the spotlight for Canada

by Lisa Higgins

Canada’s enduring love affair with sport is hard-wired into its DNA. Old hands at providing the stage for the world’s leading sportsmen and women, Canada is proof positive of a country geared to welcoming the world.

This summer, the considerable length and breadth of the vast territorial expanse will be traversed by the world’s best female football players, all with one goal in mind – to win the World Cup.

 

It’s not the on pitch matters that will define this World Cup, but its ability to engage with global community; of how it breathes new life into the wounded FIFA brand.

For all the sponsorship and over commercialisation of the men’s game, the women’s game remains rooted in its aspiration. To inspire, engage and sustain an uncompromising vision of how football as a business should be carried out.

When the world sees FIFA executives arrested by Swiss police it undermines the very frame-work that the thousands of people employed in the women’s game are trying to build. The female arm of the game really has the power to help rebuild in part FIFA’s credibility.

Canadian minister for Sport Bal Gosal has gone to great lengths to distance the Women’s World Cup from the accusations flying around Zürich.With Canadian Soccer Association firm in its belief that it will not overshadow the World Cup.

We are extremely disappointed by today’s developments and welcome and support all efforts to eliminate this type of behaviour in the sport. We are positive that the 30 days of competition will bring exciting soccer to all fans in Canada and around the world.

It is that broad positivity that defines the women’s game. For the players this is the pinnacle of their careers all geared to creating those defining moments. For Canada it is much more than that, its a moment of self-expression, creating a sustainable legacy for generations of aspiring girls, engaging in football.

According to official DFB figures in 2010, 1,050,301 women and girls were members of its organisation and participation levels increase after each Women’s World Cup.

Over 320,000 women and girls are participate in football across Canada. This number is set to rise after the tournament, giving a huge boost to the women’s game in Canada. Football is already one of the countries leading participation sports.

Boosting the already impressive numbers, it will benefit Canadian football for generations to come. Legacy is a term often over-utilised when describing the potential aftermath of tournaments. Canada and its football association are hoping for an upsurge in support and exposure. Given the ever increasing popularity of the women’s game those aspirations could be more attainable than ever before.

 

Consolidating cross party political support for the development of the game across all 13 Provinces and territories is key to maintaining and increasing participation levels.

Canadian football Officials have utilised FIFA’s vastly successful ‘Live Your Goals’ campaign, created to engage young players and women and creating conditions that removes barriers to participation.

Canada has sought to fully capitalise on the increased demand, using the campaign to kick-start interest and to retain existing numbers, as FIFA senior Women’s Football Development manager, Mayi Cruz-Blanco outlined on FIFA.com:

Live Your Goals is FIFA’s dedicated development campaign aimed at inspiring girls and young women to get involved in soccer and stay in the game. In Canada, we hope that all the excitement generated through the FIFA Women’s World Cup will contribute to grassroots development for the country’s most popular participation sport. FIFA is working closely with the Canadian Soccer Association to ensure the Live Your Goals festivals are a success and that more female players will be able to live their goals.

Already deemed a success, the ‘Live Your Goals’ campaign has visited host cities, with regional organisers already reporting significant participation.

Bobby Lennox, Player Development Manager of the Ontario Soccer Association, has already highlighted its positive impact:

The smiles on their faces, the joy in their eyes, the excitement in their step as they meet new soccer friends is a wonderful inspiration and motivation for adults looking in. The efficient organizing and delivery of the event from 40 inspirational female volunteer coaches from Ontario sets the scene for an engaging experience and lifelong memories for every child and adult involved.

It is those sorts of benefits World Cup’s bring. A once in a generation opportunity to change the state of the game forever. FIFA has also conducted a trophy tour around Canada, bringing the tournament closer to a broader number of people. The marketing strategy has been clear – engage,educate and inspire as many people as possible.

Key to the core values of the Canadian organisational committee is social inclusion culture and community benefits. Given this rare moment of global reach for the Canadian women’s game on home turf it is clear to see how the World Cup will ensure transitional benefits.

From television and radio coverage, social media outreach and square inches in print, this every four-year opportunity is being capitalised by the Canadian government.

 

Victor Montagliani, Chair of the National Organising Committee for Canada 2015 outlined his hope for a legacy when the World Cup curtain comes down in Vancouver:

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the largest women’s sport competition in the world. As hosts, Canada has the opportunity and responsibility to welcome the world. We are pleased that at 30 days out we have surpassed half of our goal of 1.5 million spectators. Key matches are selling out and interest continues to build. We are extremely proud that the impact of this competition will extend far beyond the competition through Legacies for Canada as we strive to a Greater Goal.

Every Women’s World Cup the event gets bigger. Ticket sales are steadily growing in the days leading up to kick-off. Estimated ticket sales are set to break figures attained by Germany 2011. The eventual figure could surpass the million mark as the tournament progresses.

Organisers are cautious on a potential sell out, which would probably require regional big-hitters Canada and USA to go deep into the latter stages of the tournament. CEO of the National organising committee, Peter Montopoli, shared his outlook on the steady ticket sales:

I’ve been at this four years now and there have been some sleepless nights just worrying about representing our country to the highest level possible. I know that our team and our country have done everything possible to make this a success and that the momentum is just approaching. We can see the ticket sales increasing every day. And it’s just about to hit in our country big time. We’re anxiously excited about these next 10 days and getting into the 30 days where we will own the country from coast to coast. And that’s what we said we’d do from the beginning.

Economic output as a direct result of the World Cup and U-20 women’s World Cup last year is expected to exceed $337 million according to the Canadian Soccer association.

Rick Traer, CEO of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, has been particularly emboldened in the impact the Women’s World Cup will bring:

We are convinced that the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 and this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada will have a significant impact on our key sectors of our economy, particularly in host communities across Canada.

World cups are often about breaking down territorial boundaries and fostering or encouraging new partnerships with communities and fellow football federations.

For Canada sharing best practice with the world opens up new possibilities for the game to expand. It is not too forward-thinking at this stage to foresee significant developments in a sporting context but developing an already substantial international image.

Whilst John Herdman’s Canada bask in the global spotlight. Policy makers, The Canadian Soccer Association and its confederation CONCACAF anxiously await to reap the rewards, towards this “greater goal”. It’s quite possible they will be beyond even their wildest imaginations.

1 Response

  1. Katie says:

    Nice. Agree.

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