CONIFA Asia makes great strides in the region

During early February, Jens Jockel, president of CONIFA Asia, headed to Hong Kong, Macao and Kuala Lumpur for a hectic few days meeting various football associations and sponsors in the region. Jens and his team are looking to set up the first ever CONIFA Asia Cup and, as part of this, firstly met with All Black FC, a football team originally set up by refugees to assist displaced people who are seeking asylum in Hong Kong. CONIFA also met potential partners for the Asia Cup, visited various venues and looked at how CONIFA could benefit local teams in the region.

Jens also travelled to Macao, to meet up with the Macao FA, as well as a potential regional sponsor, before heading to Kuala Lumpur with Oscar Mussons, general secretary of CONIFA Asia. There, the duo spent a couple of days working with Rohingya FC. The Rohingyan team was formed by refugees from Myanmar, who have fled to Kuala Lumpur to escape from the persecution in their home country, and who want to use football as a way of bringing their youth together.

As part of this, CONIFA was able to donate balls and kit to the team, which they are in desperate need of. CONIFA was also in attendance at the final of the Rohingya Champions League, and handed out prizes for the winning team, as well as meeting politicians and spokespeople from Rohingya FC. This is with the aim of both assisting the Rohingyan people and drawing attention to their ongoing plight in Myanmar.

CONIFA also met with filmmakers and other interested parties, before concluding a useful and inspirational visit to the region. Jens said afterwards: “It was a pleasure working with Oscar in Kuala Lumpur. We had a successful trip together, and look forward to visiting the region again very soon. It was very important to meet with Rohingya FC especially, and support them in the work they are doing.”

 

Kelly Lindsey Q&A: Part 2

Author: Ola Bjerkevoll

“We became a group of women with a purpose, a vision, a mission”

Welcome to the second of three parts in our Q&A series with CONIFA’s brand-new Director of Women’s Football, Kelly Lindsey. Here, Kelly tells us how she ended up with the Afghanistan women’s national team – and what her biggest challenges have been in that role…

by Cassie Whittell and Ola Bjerkevoll

CONIFA: What’s been your proudest achievement as both a player – and as a coach?

Kelly Lindsey: “The first time I wore the USA women’s national team jersey was a moment I will never forget. The national anthem brought me to tears that day. I was a player who endured 10 knee surgeries in 10 years, all at the prime of my career, and thus my playing days were cut short. As I stood there in the locker room, seeing my name on the USA kit, it brought back all the memories of the many trials and tribulations I’d endured to wear the jersey; waking up from surgery wondering if I would ever walk again; the pain, the agony, the low moments, the first steps, the first run, training alone in the snow, getting up before school to run, extra training and touches before basketball practice, hours banging the ball against the wall and the couch… anything to get myself back to peak fitness and into the next training camp.

“The rise and fall of training so hard to get back into camp and start preparing for the next event, to the phone calls to my national team coaches to inform them I was in need of another operation on my knee… To have overcome so many obstacles to put that jersey on and play for my country was a memory I will never forget.

“As a coach, there are many moments, but one that really hits me was our 2016 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship journey with the Afghanistan women’s national team. We had brought a team together for the first time to India. We had a few days of training and then played against India and Bangladesh, two powerhouse teams in south Asia, who have a committed national team training schedule. India were champions in 2010, 2012, 2014 and then in 2016, and Bangladesh were runners-up in 2016. We were a team coming together for the first time, learning each other’s names, speaking six or seven different languages…

“I remember the post-game press conference and the emotions overwhelmed me. We played hard enough and competitively enough that this team from Afghanistan was being asked questions about football development and future aspirations. That’s significant, because this was a team that was often looked at as a charity case, and these were women united enough and competed hard enough to be asked questions about future World Cup dreams. They were seen as a football team!

“These women aspired to be the pride of the country, and they were on the right path, they had earned the respect to be seen as equals in the football community.”

C: How did you end up coaching and working with the Afghanistan women’s team?

KL: “In 2015, I was coaching at the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, and a young woman from the Afghanistan women’s national team was my assistant coach. I heard about the challenges and struggles of the programme, and knew I wanted to help the team. I never imagined coaching them, I was trying to help host a training camp for them, where they could play in a safe environment, enjoy some friendly matches, connect with other young women playing football, and start to connect football with positivity. I wanted to organise some women’s leadership workshops to help support their development as both people and players.

“I worked with the Afghanistan Football Federation to organise and fund the training camp, but after months of working on the project, the federation just disappeared.

“A few months later, I got a call from Khalida Popal, as she was taking over the Afghanistan team as Program Director, and wanted to revisit the training-camp idea. We talked details and how to really help develop the team now and in the future. After some time, she came back and noted they had a goal this year to compete in the SAFF Championships… would I be willing to take on the challenge of coaching and helping build the new Afghanistan women’s national team?

“So we started on the journey together, building a professional staff who would volunteer their time and energy to build the foundation for these women to pursue their goals and dreams.”

C: What was the No1 factor for you deciding to take that particular role?

KL: “Our women have a champion spirit about them. I believe that anyone who has gone through the challenges these women have faced has an innate champion within them. I wanted to give them a professional environment that respected them as equals, gave them a voice, and provided the place and space to pursue their dreams. I wanted to teach them how to train and pursue their goals on and off the field, and provide them the environment to be their best and achieve their ultimate goal, which is ‘to bring pride to Afghanistan’.

“Beyond the pitch, we worked to build a leadership committee, and aimed to teach the women how to lead themselves. How to take ownership for their development and for the future of the programme.

“I knew from the moment I took that job that an outsider would never be the leader Afghanistan needed to unite the country and be the pride of the nation. They needed a woman from within the programme to rise through the ranks and take the reins. I was very honest with the team that my proudest moment would be when I was old and grey, watching the World Cup, and they were leading themselves on to the pitch. So we worked to help the players get their coaching certificates and start the journey to be the leaders the country needs.

“I took the job to help build the infrastructure and assist the next leaders who would take Afghanistan women’s football to the heights these women dreamed of.”

C: What’s been your biggest challenge during your time working with the Afghanistan team?

KL: “What hasn’t been a challenge is probably an easier question! The biggest challenge has been the inconsistent support of the Afghanistan Football Federation. Every time we ‘succeeded’ and did well on the world stage, they found a reason to shut us down. They treated the women’s team as a ‘check-the-box activity’ to earn FIFA funding and really did not support the team when the team excelled and earned global respect.

“Our staff acted as a federation within the federation. We put a development plan together, fundraised as a staff, co-ordinated and negotiated with other federations to support training camps for the team. Ultimately, the federation would not fully support these efforts, inhibiting the development and growth of the women’s team, year in and year out. One camp a year is not development, it’s just ticking that box. It was heartbreaking for the players, because they just wanted to train, play, and compete for their nation. The players have the best intentions to truly bring pride to the nation – and to have a federation stand in their way is disheartening to say the least. AFF’s lack of investment ensured the women were not competing consistently – and thus halting their development at a time when we were rising and competing well on the world stage.”

C: And what’s been the best thing to happen in the job – either on or off the pitch?

KL: “Afghanistan is a country of people who struggle to trust. In a war-torn country, you never know who is on which side, who you can believe, and who you can trust. You recognise it right away when you start working with the team. A group of women who have had many people come through and ‘help’ them – but these people come and go, and not much has changed.

“When we arrived as American coaches, we all had to learn to stand together. I remember our first meeting when I asked the team, ‘why are we here?’ and ‘What is our mission?’

“What came out of that meeting was the start of something so beautiful. We became a group of women with a purpose, a vision, a mission. Over the years, when the challenges were real and were hard, we always came back to this mission and united around it to take our next steps. We became a team, a family, and we are still growing as a family – together, piece by piece. We are Afghanistan and I am extremely proud of that.”

We’ll have the final part of our Q&A live tomorrow – so be sure to come back to find out about Kelly’s new role in CONIFA, and what her aims for women’s football are. Don’t miss it!

 

 

Kelly Lindsey Q&A: Part 3

Author: Ola Bjerkevoll

Let’s do great things together!”

This is the final part of our Q&A session with CONIFA’s brand-new Director of Women’s Football, Kelly Lindsey. Here we have a look at the role Kelly is taking on at CONIFA and what her goals for women’s football are…

by Cassie Whittell and Ola Bjerkevoll 

CONIFA: What attracted you to CONIFA and why did you decide to take on this brand-new role?

Kelly Lindsey: “CONIFA is a confederation focused on using football as a beacon of unity, hope and inspiration for people facing injustice, who are not supported by FIFA. Football is a powerful vehicle for peace, unification and pride, and it can break down barriers and lift up individuals, communities and nations.

“I have seen the change the game makes in the lives it touches. I believe CONIFA has the right values, structure and system in place to transform the sport’s governing culture. When a group of people work as hard as the CONIFA family does on executing and developing the game with integrity, the sky’s the limit on the impact we can make. It’s an honour to join the team and support the development of the women’s game with people who want to invest in cultivating the culture, system and mindset of success.

 

“From the moment I spoke to Paul [Watson, CONIFA’s Member Development Director], I knew this was a unique group of people, who saw past a ‘top-down’ governing style and were open to being connected to the member associations and working closely on some unique challenges and goals. When you can work directly with your members and be connected to the work at grassroots level, we can build a foundation for success that the teams, coaches, leaders and associations can feel pride in.

“The women’s game has so much growth potential – and the game transforms lives. Football builds character and confidence and gives the courage to pave new ways for women. It’s an honour to have the ability to build the place and space for more women to be educated through the game for the betterment of their lives as leaders, engaged citizens and change-makers of their unique communities. I look forward to working with CONIFA to build something uniquely special for the women’s game.”

C: What do you hope to bring to the role?

 

KL: “I hope to bring leadership that CONIFA members and women’s programmes around the world turn to for knowledge, advocacy and development. To build a network of leaders of the game to make progress and develop the best environments for women to succeed on the field and far beyond. I hope we turn heads, inspire dreams and transform opportunities. I aim to ensure we develop the game from uniquely local perspectives, because there are no two teams, countries or associations alike.

“Most importantly, I want to be a leader women can turn to and know they have a voice, with open lines of communication and outreach. Women around the world face unique challenges that often get overlooked when they put on a football kit. We are here to develop the women’s game and that means developing women along the way. May no woman feel like she stands alone – we will stand together at CONIFA.”

C: Do you see any similarities between your roles with the Afghanistan national team and CONIFA?

KL: “For women across the world there are unique challenges. In my opinion, this is where the men’s and women’s game differ. Culturally, men just get to play, roll the ball out and get on with it. In the women’s game, we would be ignorant to think it is so easy.

“The cultural, social, economic, physical and mental challenges women face are far beyond the depths of the men’s game. Thus, the way we view the development and growth of the sport needs to be pursued on a more micro level. No one can just barrel into a country and tell them how to run football; the women’s game doesn’t work this way. It takes time to understand the barriers and challenges, and then work within them to challenge social norms and develop mindsets. I am a big believer that when the value of the women’s game is established, opportunity can grow. It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model.

“I think every challenge we faced with Afghanistan, with my work in Hong Kong, in the inner cities of the USA, through China… and touch-points in Singapore, Jordan, the Philippines and Australia has shown me that, no matter how developed or underdeveloped the women’s game is, it is a personal journey and we need to work hard to educate, advocate and empower through a value system unique to the location we are working in. We need to be consistently working with the local community to build programmes they can be proud of, build their own unique women’s football culture!”

C: Do you have any goals for your role with CONIFA already in mind? Are there any plans you can share with us?

KL: “In my time working with Afghanistan, I have developed strong feelings about the importance of global competitions to build the women’s game. It needs to be competitive in order to inspire future generations, develop players and unite the support of the people. There has to be value and merit in the game itself to inspire people to invest. We cannot wait for investment and then build women’s football – we have to make the magic happen and get teams competing, so they have something of value to train for, prepare for, invest in and – ultimately – fight for.

“The women’s game cannot be a ‘tick-the-box’ activity, where member associations are credited for just having a women’s team. We need member associations who want to develop the game and improve the quality of the game from grassroots all the way through to national teams.

“In the FIFA model, the top teams have something to aspire to, but the bottom teams get left behind with a lack of advocacy to improve their development. In CONIFA, my number-one goal will be to develop a competition structure that builds the game for all. We will aim to get a Women’s Football Cup off the ground in the coming year or two, and will work closely with members to create opportunities for consistent competitions to drive value, networking and educational opportunities.

“I am a big believer in the idea that the game grows when we work together. The CONIFA women’s board will work to utilise every opportunity we have with our members to open lines of communication and networking to ensure we stay united on the push to develop the game. No women’s team will be left standing alone, feeling they have to figure things out in isolation. There are brilliant advocates of the game who have developed great programmes out of nothing, and that is at the heart of women’s football. We unite with nothing and create an impact. I hope to drive that same mentality in CONIFA, and support the progress, hopes and dreams of the member associations.

C: Is there anything else you would like to say to the many CONIFA members and followers out there?

KL: “It is with great humility that I join the CONIFA family. I hope that you all feel you can reach out and voice any concerns, ideas or inspiration you have. I’m eager to work alongside you to develop programmes, projects and partnerships that bring pride to you and your associations.

“This is a unique organisation with a unique mission, and in 2019 it’s a breath of fresh air to pursue the future together!

“If you’re part of the CONIFA family as a member, fan, follower, supporter, or seeing us for the first time – let’s do great things together!”

Welcome to CONIFA, Kelly! We all look forward to working with you!

Kelly Lindsey Q&A: Part 1

Author: Ola Bjerkevoll

“I believe in building champion cultures and developing people to achieve more than they ever believed was possible”

Welcome to a very special three-part Q&A session with CONIFA’s newly appointed Director of Women’s Football, Kelly Lindsey. In the first part of our interview with her, Kelly talks to us about her heroes both on and off the pitch, as well as how she found her way into playing and coaching…

by Cassie Whittell and Ola Bjerkevoll

CONIFA: First things first. How did you get involved in playing football? What was your first match, either playing or watching?

Kelly Lindsey: “I started playing football at age four. My older brother played, and I fell in love with the sport watching him. I had lots of energy as a child, I was always on the move, always running and playing. At that age, I wasn’t allowed to play football because I was too young, unless my father coached. So, even though my father wasn’t a football guy, he took on the role, read all the books and coached me for the next eight or so years.

“I don’t remember my very first game, but I do remember my first uniform and my first season as a footballer. Our team name was the ‘Get-Along Gang’ and we weren’t very good. We lost every game. I remember the last game of the season and my dad, our coach, told us if we scored a goal, he would buy us all ice cream. We scored our very first goal of the season in that match.   We celebrated like we had won the World Cup. Even though it was an own goal, Dad was a champion and took us for ice cream. The passion for football and ice cream carried on for years to come.”

C: Growing up, who were your heroes/inspirations, both football-related and in other fields? Which football team inspired you the most as a young player?

KL: “I remember being about five years old, sitting on the edge of my bed and looking up at a poster on my wall. My dad came in and asked me what I was doing. I said, ‘One day I’m going to play for that team.’ He said, ‘Well, you better get working!’

“It was the USA men’s national team I was talking about. There was very little, if any, marketing or knowledge of the women’s national team at that time. I didn’t know they even existed. Yet I was determined to play on that men’s team, and I believe my dad’s words that day guided me. He didn’t say anything about men versus women, he just said ‘get working’.

“I never idolised any heroes, but I respected many athletes who I thought I could learn something from to achieve my dream.

“On the USA women’s national team, one woman I hugely respected was Tracey Bates. At the time, she was the smallest player on the team, but had the heart of a lion and the character of a champion. I had the fortune of being coached by her in my middle school years, and I just connected to her competitiveness. It was okay for me to compete my hardest against her, because at the time everyone thought I played far too rough and was way too competitive. Girls got mocked for being like that, my mom and dad often sat in the crowd and had to listen to other parents talk about me being too competitive and a ‘dirty player’. I never intended to be dirty, I was just extremely determined! My time with Tracey taught me it was ‘normal’ to be that competitive if you wanted to play at the highest level. She allowed me to be my best in her presence and compete on the field as an equal with her – and that changed me forever.

“Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Roger Craig of the San Francisco 49ers were legends and their humble, unity as teammates was something I valued and respected. Those three men were a unit, they were extreme competitors, and through it all they treated the game and others with the utmost respect. They were true champions in my mind; they competed hard, were intellectuals and teammates – three qualities I took from them on my journey.

“Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the American heptathlete… I had her poster on my wall. She was by far the greatest athlete of all time in my mind, and she did it with humility, grace, and honour. She was a beacon of what it meant to be an American hero. She competed so hard, smiled, waved, looked so sincere and always like she loved what she did. She left it all on the track. I remember in my later years of playing, that if a person in the stands only got one moment to watch me play, I wanted to inspire them to live life with their heart on their sleeve, and I think I took a bit of that from watching Jackie Joyner-Kersee compete. She inspired me to inspire others!”

C: Why did you want to become a coach and when did you realise this was something you were interested in doing?

KL: “I started coaching at 13 years old. I wanted to give kids in my community an inspiring, fun place to develop their skills and play football. At that time, there weren’t a lot of professional coaches in my area, so there was no one to teach us the technical skills of the game. I was fortunate to be learning these skills through going to regional and national team camps. So I started my own camps, Kick’n’Kids Soccer Camps. I rented the fields, did my own marketing, and hired coaches I trusted to spread an inspiring message about pursuing your best in life. I wanted to share the knowledge I was gaining from outside and bring it to the kids inside my community, so they could pursue their dreams.

“From there, coaching was always a part of my life. In my Junior year at university, I took a semester off from studying to train for the Olympics but, weeks later, I was diagnosed with a foot fracture and had to spend the semester at home in Omaha, Nebraska. I coached a high school and club team that year, which elevated my passion to give back and develop the place and space for young athletes to pursue their best. Throughout my college and professional career, I coached on the side, through camps, individual sessions, and club sessions.

“When I retired from playing, I went straight into coaching and I remember having an epiphany. I always played sport to be the best, to win championships, to represent my country. Then I started coaching athletes that were not expected to play football at the highest levels or win championships, and I really had to contemplate what coaching truly was all about.

“I think that’s what lands me where I am today. Coaching is a tool to create the place and space for players, coaches and leaders of the game to pursue their best selves. I deeply believe in building champion cultures and developing people to achieve more than they ever believed was possible.

“I’ve been able to test my theory through the US college game, the US professional game, internationally, and from grassroots through to elite. I truly believe the culture of the women’s game is what will develop and transform it on the world stage.”

C: How would you describe your coaching philosophy? Who is your favourite football coach?

KL: “My coaching philosophy is embedded in getting the best out of individuals and transforming them into a team they would do anything for. I do not believe a system wins championships, I believe people do. I take the time to study and learn about my players psychologically, mentally, physically and emotionally, and then try to build systems of play around them. How can I put them in positions to be their best and to succeed together.

“I don’t believe in having a system and shoving people into that. To me, the game of football is an amoeba that can be manipulated and transformed to fit the personalities of the players. Within that mentality, I look to develop specific skills in each player that will allow them to achieve more for the betterment of the team. I don’t harp about weaknesses – we all have them – but rather what can I build within them to ensure that, when they step on to the pitch, they feel invincible and like superheroes. I mean, who can beat a team of superheroes!

“Of course, within all of this is developing team tactics that are simple and united. I always want my teams working as a unit, day in and day out, working, competing, fighting as a unit … One Unit, One Team, One Passion, One Heartbeat. Everyone has an important role in the team’s success; no matter how many minutes you get on game day, we need you.

“I am a passionate coach, and probably burn as many calories as the players during training. I work as hard as they do on training day, to be in the moment and coach the little details within the game while they are playing.

“I take a little bit from every coach I come into contact with. I love to watch coaches at work, and I really watch how their words and actions effect players. Coaches that I don’t know personally but appreciate from afar are Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) and Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool). I believe they are real and sincere and let their passion for the game and their players show. They seem to build a family and stand by this family through the good times and the bad.

“Tony DiCicco was the women’s national team coach in my time, and he was an unbelievable human being, coach, and leader of women. I say ‘leader of women’, because there is a knack for having women’s respect and being able to lead women to lead themselves. Tony was highly respected by all the players. On his staff was Lauren Gregg, one of the most passionate coaches I ever played for. She was intense, focused, and consumed with the little details of the game. As a strong woman, she was definitely a personality that shaped my coaching persona. She was intense, she would laugh, then she would be back on the case to drive home the details of the game. Along with Lauren, one of Tony’s great secrets to coaching women was Colleen Hacker. Colleen was our sports psychologist, a mental skills coach. Her unique insight into the psyche of elite competitors and her team-building mentality, taught me the value and importance of always focusing on the individual to build the team.

“I am also an Emma Hayes fan and think she has done great work at Chelsea Women. I had the honour of coaching against Emma in the US Women’s Professional Soccer (name of the top division in the USA from 2009-2012), and always enjoyed the tactical battles on the pitch. I have watched the journey of Asako Takakura of Japan, who has had an impeccable journey in developing the country’s youth and women’s national programmes. She is as nice and professional off the pitch as she is intense on it, and stands true to her own style of coaching – which is incredibly important in a coach’s journey. Asako is a consummate professional of the game.

“Sarina Wiegman’s success with the Netherlands national team has been inspiring. Pia Sundhage was a legend in the United States, both as a standout player for Sweden, and as a coach in the Women’s United Soccer Association and with the USA women’s national team. I was fortunate to play against Pia and start my professional coaching career when she was leading the USA team, so was able to learn from one of the best in the business.

“I can look back on my life and have deep admiration and respect for my middle-school track coach Leigh Officer, my high-school cross-country coaches Coach Mike Neeman and Coach Terence Thielen, my high-school basketball coach Mr Ritz, my college coaches Chris Petrucelli and Randy Waldrum, and two of the greatest football coaches I ever had – Ian Sawyers and Tom Sermanni (currently with the New Zealand women’s national team). All of these coaches were true to themselves, sincerely cared about their players, and were always willing to hear from a player on how we could make the team better. They challenged me, they inspired me, and they went beyond the day-to-day work of a coach to support my journey!”

 

That’s all for part one! Come back to our website tomorrow for the second part of the Q&A, where Kelly talks about her time in Afghanistan and her proudest moments as a coach.

 

 

Kelly Lindsey Appointed as CONIFA’s First Ever Director of Women’s Football

The former USA international takes up her role with immediate effect

CONIFA is delighted to announce the appointment of Kelly Lindsey, former USA international footballer, to the role of Director of Women’s Football. Kelly is tasked with developing women’s football across CONIFA’s membership, as well as looking to set up an inaugural Women’s World Football Cup in 2021.

Kelly joins CONIFA in a voluntary capacity (as is everyone who works for CONIFA) and will be working in tandem with her current role as Head Coach for the Afghanistan National Women’s Football Team, a position she has held since 2016. This challenging environment makes her ideally placed to take up the role of Director of Women’s Football with CONIFA.

Now based in Hong Kong, Kelly’s playing career began with Notre Dame University’s women’s football team, where she was two-time team captain. Upon graduation in 2001, she was the number-one pick of the Women’s United Soccer Association college draft in 2001. Her team, the San Jose CyberRays, went on to win the world championship that year.

In addition, Kelly played internationally for the USA women’s football team at U16, U21 and women’s national team levels from 1995-2002.

A series of knee surgeries led to Kelly retiring from playing, and beginning her coaching career. In 2003, she guided the University of Colorado to their first ever NCAA tournament selection, before going on to coach at the University of Texas and Saint Mary’s. She then took the helm of Sky Blue FC, part of the newly formed Women’s Professional Soccer League, going on to win the 2009 Championship. Additionally, she has coached the USA U21 women’s team as well as on the USA U14 national development programme.

Paul Watson, CONIFA’s Member Development Director, says:

‘With such an exceptional playing and coaching career, and such a wide range of experiences in women’s football, there was no doubt in our minds that Kelly was the number-one choice for the new role of CONIFA Director of Women’s Football. All of us in CONIFA are over the moon that Kelly has decided to take up this challenge, and we are all committed to assisting her in developing women’s football across CONIFA over the next months and years.’

Kelly Lindsey, CONIFA’s inaugural Director of Women’s Football, says:

‘I am extremely grateful to be joining the CONIFA family, a sports governing body that puts its people first, builds bridges through sport, and provides a place and space for the sport of football to transform and empower lives. I am humbled to join the team, have deep appreciation for the work CONIFA does, and will strive to provide the women of CONIFA with a safe place to pursue their passion and play the sport they love with integrity and pride. Thank you to the CONIFA Executive Committee and a special thanks to Paul Watson for their passion in the developing the women’s game. Together we aim to do great things for the women of CONIFA.’

Everyone at CONIFA extends a warm welcome to Kelly, and looks forward to extending opportunities for the women’s game across all CONIFA members. Find out more about CONIFA’s commitment to women’s football.

And look out for our exclusive interview with Kelly, coming to the CONIFA website soon!

CONIFA Seeking Volunteer Deputy Media Director for Immediate Placement

Working for the Media & Communications Director, the Deputy Media Director will be the first point of contact for all content creation requests for the CONIFA website. They will also be tasked with creating press releases for significant CONIFA news, working with the CONIFA social media team to generate significant interest in CONIFA channels and also working on media planning and management for CONIFA tournaments. You will also be expected to deputise for the Media & Communications Director in their absence.

The position is voluntary (as are all CONIFA positions) and can be done remotely, with the expectation to communicate progress to the Media & Communications Director, and other CONIFA staff, as required.

Hours per month:

5-20 recommended but it is at the discretion of the Deputy Media Director to set a working schedule that is manageable around other commitments. Hours will generally be in the 10-15 hours per month range, but will increase depending on if there is an event taking place.

The main tasks of the role will be:

  • acting as the first point of contact for all content creation requests across the CONIFA channels
  • writing and creating news stories and press releases for CONIFA
  • commissioning journalists from the CONIFA pool when required
  • working with the social media editor to create compelling, shareable content across all CONIFA channels
  • assisting with media planning for CONIFA tournaments
  • assisting with media management during CONIFA tournaments
  • working with the Media & Communications Director to ensure CONIFA’s message is always being communicated effectively and clearly across all media
  • ensuring that CONIFA’s media channels are always producing content of an extremely high standard.

Necessary skills:

  • Minimum 3-4 years experience as a social media manager OR
  • Minimum 3-4 years experience as an online editor for a publication house or media platform OR
  • Minimum 3-4 years experience as a digital project manager or content creator
  • Excellent understanding of online publishing methods, social media analytics, content creation, quality control
  • Client-facing experience across different sectors
  • Team management experience
  • Excellent communication and organisational skills
  • An eye for detail with some experience in proof reading, editing or sub editing copy

Useful skills:

  • Solid understanding of print production processes / programme creation
  • WordPress, Google Analytics, campaign management, Microsoft Office skills

What you will get from the role:

  • An exciting chance to get experience in global football, working in a progressive, growing organisation using football for social empowerment
  • A unique opportunity to gain experience in sports media.

We understand that as a voluntary position the Deputy Media Director will need to balance paid work commitments and are completely flexible in terms of working hours.

The position is voluntary (as with all CONIFA roles).

Please email a CV and covering letter explaining why you would like to become the CONIFA Deputy Media Director to cassie.whittell@gmail.com

CONIFA is dedicated to equality and diversity and we welcome applications from a diverse range of people, respecting and drawing on different perspectives, skills, experience and knowledge.

The Road to Artsakh 2019

Now the draw’s been made for the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019, it’s time to look ahead to what promises to be another sumptuous festival of CONIFA football!

The CONIFA family gathered in Krakow for its AGM in January 2019, with the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019 draw taking centre stage on the second day. This was also live-streamed on mycujoo.

Hosts Artsakh will take on Sapmi in the competition’s opening game in Group 1. Coincidentally, this will be Artsakh’s first CONIFA tournament fixture since they played none other than Sapmi in their final placement game at the 2014 World Football Cup! The south Caucasus side ran out 5-1 victors on that day, and will fancy their chances for another victory in front of what organisers hope will be a bumper home crowd in Stepanakert in June.

In terms of a ‘group of death’, eyes are drawn to Groups 2 and 3. The former features two previous world football champions in Abkhazia and County of Nice, alongside newcomers Chameria. And two Italian-based sides will go head to head in Group 3, with double European champions Padania up against Sardinia in what is sure to be an interesting battle. They will also meet unknown quantities Donetsk, who are taking part in CONIFA tournament football for the very first time.

Finally, in Group 4, Western Armenia will most likely receive considerable support from fans in Armenian-majority Artsakh. They take on experienced campaigners Szekely Land, and fellow south Caucasians South Ossetia. This group looks especially difficult to call in terms of which two sides will progress to the quarter-finals.

Attendees at the AGM in Krakow also heard more about plans for June’s tournament, including the proposed venues. These, along with final dates for the tournament, will be announced soon.

To remain fully up to date with the CONIFA Sportsbet.io European Football Cup 2019 – and all other CONIFA news – be sure to follow CONIFA’s social channels on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.