Football history is being made in the Solomon Islands this week as the country hosts its first ever FIFA Women's Football Com-Unity seminar devoted exclusively to the women's game.The three-day event, hosted by the Solomon Island Football Federation (SIFF), kicked off at the Kitana Mendana Hotel in Honiara today with around 40 key stakeholders in attendance.
SIFF President Martin Alufurai opened proceedings by welcoming guests and echoing the FIFA President's message that 'Football is a game for all.'
"We are involved in a sport that captivates all segments of society regardless of age, race or sex," said Alufurai.
"In recognition of this, SIFF has made a commitment to the development of the women's game with the continuing support of FIFA through the FIFA Financial Assistance Program."
Key note speaker Solomon Palusi, representing the Ministry of Home Affairs and Sports, officially opened the course and made note of the first ever 'National Day for Women's Football' which will be held at Lawson Tama Stadium on Thursday 11 June to cap of a momentous week for women's football.
"It is my pleasure to endorse the inaugural National Day for Women's Football," said Palusi.
"This year it will be localized in Honiara but from 2010 the National Day will be held throughout the country, making it an important event to add to our sporting calendar."
FIFA Women's Football Committee Member Michele Cox is the expert guest for the Com-Unity course which brings together Government officials, Non-Government Organisations (NGO's), sponsors, media and clubs.
As a former New Zealand International who has played in Germany, Cox has a long history in the game. In her opening address, she outlined the growth explosion women's football has experienced globally in recent years.
"Football is the largest growing sport for women in the world with now over 30 million participants," said Cox. "It has also set the record for the biggest attendance at any women's sporting event with over 90,000 people turning out for the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup 1999 in USA."
Glenn Turner, FIFA Development Officer for Oceania, then presented to the group and acknowledged the substantial work already done by SIFF to develop the women's game in the Solomon Islands.
Over the next three days, the Com-Unity course will feature seminars from various local authorities and include sessions on communications, media and marketing. It aims to encourage cooperation between key stakeholders and establish clear objectives and outcomes to help build women's football from grassroots right through to the elite level.