COSAFA CEO Sue Destombes and legendary South African coach Fran Hilton-Smith have been hand-picked by FIFA to act as mentors in their Female Leadership Development Programme.

COSAFA CEO Sue Destombes and legendary South African coach Fran Hilton-Smith have been hand-picked by FIFA to act as mentors in their Female Leadership Development Programme (FLDP).

COSAFA has worked tirelessly in the past to promote women in football through tournaments, coaching clinics and workshops for administrators and the selection of Destombes and Hilton-Smith to mentor in the FLDP is confirmation of that work.

FIFA launched the FLDP during the recently completed Women’s World Cup in Canada and will over the next nine months take 35 female participants from all over the world who are in key positions of football development through a leadership training journey.

The aim is to up-skill these participants so that they can form part of the next generation of leaders in the world of football.

Destombes and Hilton-Smith have been specifically chosen to help motivate participants in their growth as leaders and help to build their network within world football.

“We are proud of both Sue and Fran and send our congratulations to them for being chosen for these prestigious and vitally important positions. It shows the respect that FIFA has for administrators and coaches from the COSAFA region and that our men and women involved in football are at the very forefront of the world game,” says COSAFA President Suketu Patel.

Each of the participants will also be asked to develop a project that will further improve women’s football in their member association.

After the launch on July 4, there will be two further workshops at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich between September 29-October 2, 2015 and February 29-March 3, 2016.

“This programme will give 35 outstanding women the opportunity to fulfil their leadership potential in football,” said Moya Dodd, FIFA Executive Committee co-opted member and chair of FIFA’s Task Force for Women’s Football.

“As reflected in FIFA’s ten key principles for women’s football development, improving the gender balance in football decision-making – including at executive committee level in all governing bodies – will enhance football governance and improve the game overall.”

The participants selected have all been involved in women’s football and have played a key role at the member associations or at FIFA itself.

They represent a wide range of regions, backgrounds and organisations, thereby bringing together diverse and unique personal experiences.

The FLDP is being organised as part of FIFA’s commitment to ensuring that female players, coaches, officials and administrators have a clear “pathway” through the game.

This creates stability and improves professionalism in the game while offering those involved in women’s football a tangible career path.

Pathways are crucial in attracting high-calibre candidates to all aspects of the game and encouraging participants to stay in the sport throughout their lives.

The next COSAFA Women’s Championship will take place in Seychelles in March 2016.

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