Colleges help FA achieve record numbers for Girls’ Football Week
More than 111 colleges signed up to take part in Girls’ Football Week last week, helping The FA hugely exceed their participation target of 22,000.
Early indications show that 80,000 females took part in a range of football-based events – a significant increase on the 52,000 who participated in April’s Girls’ Football Week.
AoC Sport’s National Football Development Manager Lauren O’Sullivan, said: “These participation numbers achieved across Girls’ Football Week, and in particular by colleges, are an incredible achievement and a big indication of the ever-increasing popularity of the sport among females.
“Colleges played a huge role in helping The FA develop girls’ and women’s football by running a range of different events, covering those who wish to play competitively, as well as those who want to take part for fun, or for fitness.
“We hope that colleges, with the help of our ECFA College Football Hubs and Football Activators, can continue to promote and facilitate participation for females, and help The FA to double women’s football participation and support AoC Sport with our aim of getting every student active.
“Football, and all other forms of sport or physical activity play a huge role in providing students, staff and the wider community with benefits in education, employment and health.
“We all have a responsibility to get the nation activate and use sport and physical activity as a tool to improve peoples’ lives, as a preventative to the health issues inactivity brings and to reduce the associated consumption health and other public funding due to inactivity and unhealthy lifestyles.
“To achieve this, we need more educational institutions to be providing opportunities for everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or ability to access football, sport and physical activity. Girls’ Football Week is one of many great initiatives AoC Sport is advocating to achieve just that.”
Here are just a few examples of the wide variety of events that colleges put on during the course of the week:
Sunderland College ran a WeCanPlay event for local schools on Monday, which was featured on Sky Sports News. 56 girls took part on the day, and FA Women’s Super League players from Sunderland Ladies, Beth Mead and Rachel Laws, were also in attendance to support the day, alongside referee Lucy Oliver.
Sunderland College sports student, Megan Elliott, said: “The WeCanPlay event was a great opportunity to promote women’s football and encourage more girls to get involved.
“We really enjoyed meeting Sunderland Ladies players Rachel Laws and Beth Mead, who are excellent role models for women in sport and two women I aspire to be like one day. We’re already looking forward to taking part in more events like this in the future!”
Brooksby Melton College
Brooksby Melton ran a Soccercise session on Wednesday, with 20 females taking part – 19 of whom were new to football. The ages of participants ranged from 16-55 and it was so successful, the college are now looking to make it part of their lunchtime sports club provision.
Walsall College, in conjunction with Aston University, hosted a Girls’ Football Week festival on Friday for FE and HE students, alongside AoC Sport and BUCS. More than 100 local students took part in football sessions.
FA head of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell and England Women assistant coach Marieanne Spacey attended the event, along with Birmingham City duo Kerys Harrop and Emily Westwood, taking part in a Q&A session with the participants.
Marieanne Spacey said: “It was great to be here today and meet so many women and girls who were enjoying playing the game.
“Playing football and weeks like these offer so much more than just the game itself, it’s also the opportunity to be outside, be active and make friends. Without football organising these events, it might not be as possible.”
Bridgwater College hosted a female football festival on Wednesday, in association with ECFA and Somerset FA. Local colleges including Exeter and Richard Huish took part, while the Women’s FA Cup also made an appearance.
Hartlepool Sixth Form College
Hartlepool Sixth Form College hosted a futsal tournament on Thursday, with several local schools getting involved.
Weston College hosted a free girls-only football session, which more than 16 students attended. These free sessions will continue every Friday night at the EA Stadium in Clevedon up until Christmas.
St Brendan’s Sixth Form College
As part of their BTEC coursework, a group of female students organised a football festival for Year 9 and 10 girls at the college.
Three different schools were involved, with the college students taking responsibility for contacting local schools, setting up and running the event.
26 girls participated, 10 of whom were new to football, and all expressed an interest in returning to the college to take part in future sessions.
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“The WECANPLAY event was a great opportunity to promote women’s football and encourage more girls to get involved. We really enjoyed meeting SAFC Ladies players Rachel Laws and Beth Mead, who are excellent role models for women in sport and two women I aspire to be like one day. We’re already looking forward to taking part in more events like in future!”