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Thousands of existing football players aged 5-19, plus hundreds of potential new Lionesses of tomorrow, recently enjoyed FA Girls’ Football Week in Essex between 6th and 12th November and showcased female football at every level.
FA Girls’ Football Week was an opportunity to raise the game’s profile and support The FA’s aim to double the number of females playing football by 2020. For clubs, it was a great chance to attract new players and volunteers. For schools, colleges and universities it also encouraged students to give football a try.
Across the county there were regular matches at different age groups as well as after-school coaching sessions and ‘inter-house’ competitions. Universities and colleges were involved, as were FA Charter Standard Clubs, who welcomed new players to training. Female Mars Just Play sessions took place, as did festivals, tournaments, Soccercise, Soccability and lunchtime football as Essex embraced the annual week.
Essex County FA Football Development Officer, Emma Burden, was delighted with the local activity during Girls’ Football Week, commenting: “For me, the positive effect it has on a player’s happiness is the biggest factor. The girls are playing with their friends, or girls the same age, and are having fun whilst getting a workout.”
“The girls are challenging old-fashioned viewpoints that the game is for boys and forging a female-friendly player pathway forward for them to play within. I run an after-school club at The Cathedral School which is really well-attended. During the week we had 25 girls from Year 1 all the way through to Year 6. The girls had a great time playing some fun invasion games and little matches against their own year groups.”
And she also had a recommendation for any girl who’s thinking of exploring football for the first time: “Come along to one of our SSE Wildcats Festivals and give the game a try! We have events going on all around the county and the Wildcats Festivals are a great starting point for girls who are not sure but might want to just give it a try. Socially, football is a great sport to improve confidence and make friends whilst getting some exercise in too!”
Abbey Carroll, Football Ambassador for St John Payne Catholic School, explained: “Our year seven to nine pupils took part and it was very successful. Our football club will have lots of new members when it gets back up and running after the winter and the tournament was a very successful event. If you’re thinking of playing football just go for it, and don’t be scared.”
“I still say to the girls at the club that I’m not the best - I’m no Ronaldo or Messi - but I never give up and that’s why I have the skills in football now that I didn’t necessarily have back when I started playing. Girls’ football is beneficial as girls can escape the stigma of it being a boys sport.”
Fellow Ambassador, Niamh Gamble, added: “On the Friday we ran inter-form football for year seven girls. It was a great success! Many had never played football before. However, with the help of their more experienced team mates, Abbey and I, they managed to understand the game but, most importantly, enjoyed playing.”
“Football brings with it endless opportunities. It helps you to keep fit, meet new friends, travel and make so many memories. It also builds many life skills such as confidence, communication and leadership. There is a study which shows that girls who play football have greater self-confidence than those who don’t play the game. This is so important for young girls. Get in touch with the Essex County FA and find out about your local club.
“Ignore any negativity around women’s football and, if you want to play, just get involved... you have nothing to lose! Some of the best memories and proudest moments of my life have been within football and, if I hadn’t gone for a training session with my local club at the age of eight, I wouldn’t have been able to experience and achieve the things I have.”
Ideas for girls’ football activities in clubs, schools, colleges and universities can be found at www.essexfa.com. Information and photos are also being shared on Twitter @EssexCountyFA (use the #GirlsFootballWeek and #WeCanPlay hashtags) and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
FA Girls Football Week Participants
Baddow Spartak FC (Chelmsford)
Basildon Academies (Basildon)
Beacon Hill Rovers FC (Wickham Bishops)
Buckhurst Hill FC (Buckhurst Hill)
Colchester County High School for Girls (Colchester)
Colchester United FC Football in the Community (Colchester)
Curwen Primary School (Newham)
Essex County FA and The Cathedral Primary School (Chelmsford)
Forest Glade Girls FC (Billericay)
Hutton FC (Hutton)
Leigh Ramblers Girls and Ladies FC (Leigh-on-Sea)
Manningtree High School (Manningtree)
Muslimah Sports Association (Ilford)
Palmer’s College (Grays)
Rayleigh Girls FC (Rayleigh)
Shenfield High School School Games Partnership (Shenfield)
Springfield Girls FC (Chelmsford)
St Anne Line Catholic Junior School (Basildon)
St John Payne Catholic School (Chelmsford)
Stewards Academy (Harlow)
Unity Primary Academy (Colchester)
University of Essex (Colchester)
Writtle Minors Girls FC (Chelmsford)