INTERNET DESK: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and its Member Associations will again unite to support women’s football, as the AFC Women’s Football Day is celebrated across the continent on March 8, coinciding with International Women’s Day.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “Women’s football has special significance across the AFC as we excel on the world stage. Asia is the world’s biggest football community and women and girls are an important part of the future success of the game in the continent. Fulfilling Asia’s football potential is possible only if it includes everyone: women, men, boys and girls.”

This year, 30 AFC Member Associations (MAs) from Bhutan to Guam, from IR Iran and Singapore to the United Arab Emirates are marking the AFC Women’s Football Day with festivals, tournaments, workshops, skills clinics and seminars involving children and adults, women’s national team players and other women’s football role models to celebrate the annual continent-wide campaign dedicated to the promotion and development of women’s football.

AFC Head of Women’s Football Development Bai Lili said: “Women’s football in Asia is already world class: we have a FIFA World Cup winner in Japan, FIFA age-group champions from DPR Korea and five teams among the top twenty teams in the world.

“But we have some more work to do in lifting the level across all our MAs, who are very diverse. We continue to see encouraging developments around the continent, with a steady increase in the number of MAs taking part in the AFC youth competitions. This is great news for the future of the women’s game in our continent.”

The AFC has plenty of success to celebrate again this AFC Women’s Football Day. A significant milestone for women’s football in Asia was reached in October last year as the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup final was dominated by AFC MAs: the match was played in Jordan, and in addition to the location, everyone on the pitch represented the AFC: the final match was played between DPR Korea and Japan and the refereeing team were from Australia and India. DPR Korea went on to win the final, as well as the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in December. These successes signal a bright future for women’s top-level football on the continent.

The AFC women’s youth competitions will take place later this year, with the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship played on 9-23 September in Thailand and the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship on 14-28 October in China PR. The qualifiers for Asia’s top women’s senior team competition, the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, will be played in April in DPR Korea, Palestine, Tajikistan and Vietnam. The final tournament will take place in April next year in Jordan.

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About Ajay M.