Positive Changes and Opportunities
Developing AND Sustaining Your Female Pathway
Exponential Growth in All Areas of the Game
The female pathway has seen incredible changes over the last ten years, both at a county and at national level. The most positive of changes has been the exponential growth in all areas of the female game.
The professionalisation of women’s football, in the form of the FA Women’s Super League, has played a major role in building momentum and forcing a cultural shift in both attitudes, and subsequent opportunities, across the country.
The introduction of the Weetabix Wildcats Programme has been instrumental in building a more accessible foundation to the game for girls aged 5-11. The concept encourages ‘the beginner girl’ to get involved with their local provider. Within Essex, we are fortunate to have Wildcats Centres in every local authority.
As a result of the number of Wildcats sessions taking place within Essex, the number of mini-soccer opportunities has also increased. Girls can now play within the Essex County Girls’ League or their local league, where a recent change within the Standard Code of Rules (Youth) (SCORY) allows girls’ teams to play a year group down. This was after a successful four-year pilot by the Brentwood Community Football Alliance Youth League.
A natural increase in youth team opportunities was inevitable as the Foundation Stage grew. The Essex County Girls’ League continues to expand, allowing divisions to become more regionalised. Some girls’ teams continue to play within their local league.
Due to the increase in the number of girls’ teams spread across different youth leagues, we recently saw the introduction of a third County Cup for girls. Essex can now boast three County Cup competitions in the Under 12s, Under 14s and Under 16s age groups.
Women’s playing opportunities are also on the increase. A growth within the Essex County Women’s League will inevitably lead to opportunities becoming regionalised for female players. More recently, an increase in female recreational opportunities has seen a growth in both female-specific Snickers Just Play Programmes (informal playing environments) and women’s Walking Football sessions.
The following resource guides will hopefully cover any questions you may have around the female game. We are keen to provide support to any partner who is enthusiastic about developing the female pathway so we can continue to grow and thrive within the county, ensuring there are accessible opportunities for all.