(FIFA.com)  The first module of the FIFA Female Leadership Development programme kicked off in Vancouver on 4 July, just prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ Final.  The programme is part of FIFA’s commitment to its ten key development principles forwomen’s football, seeking to develop more female leaders and role models in the game.

“We are delighted to bring our inaugural class together for the first time here in Vancouver, with the successful FIFA Women’s World Cup and the FIFA Women’s Football Symposium providing the perfect backdrop,” said Mayi Cruz Blanco, FIFA’s Senior Manager of Women’s Football. “We are confident that this programme will help to ensure these female players, coaches, officials and administrators have the opportunity to pursue a career in football, with the support and skills necessary to succeed.”

The 35 participants 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. On the first day, they gathered to share the challenges they face as women in the game, and discuss the opportunities for leadership and change that lie ahead in their countries.

“I feel more inspired and more aware,” Yiwang Pindarica from Bhutan wrote in her assessment. “I will go back to my country and dare to change.”

Being in a room full of like-minded ladies inspires me.

Julie Teo, Singapore.

The programme is being designed and delivered in partnership with the THNK School of Creative Leadership.

“Leadership starts by owning and taking accountability for what we can change,” said Natasha Bonevalle, faculty at THNK school of Creative Leadership, in her presentation to the 2015 FIFA Women’s Football Symposium on 5 July. “The energy, power and spirit of the women in this programme is magnificent.  Let’s take it out of the programme, into the world, and let’s make a change.”

Today, female representation at executive levels is still limited, as highlighted in the FIFA Women’s Football Survey 2014, which revealed that only eight per cent of member association executive committee membership is female.  With proactive support of female leadership including with mentorship, specialised training, workshops and exchange projects, FIFA is actively seeking to change this.

“Today was a valuable learning, sharing and networking experience. Being in a room full of like-minded ladies inspires me,” said Julie Teo from Singapore. “Thank you FIFA and THNK.”

The two subsequent modules for the 2015/16 edition will take place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich from 28 September to 2 October 2015 and from 29 February to 3 March 2016.