The Football Association has announced a new strategy for women's and girls' football which aims to double participation by 2020.
The new 'Gameplan for Growth' outlines how the FA intends to "grow participation and create a sustainable and successful high-performance system to ensure England teams compete with distinction on the world stage at every age group."
The new strategy, which was announced at Wembley Stadium today, focuses on eight key priority areas spanning all levels of the game and includes the development of a network of 200 new girls' football clubs across the country.
Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s head of women’s football, expressed her excitement as she outlined the new strategy:
“I am immensely proud of the work that the FA has done in this area already but I am genuinely excited about the potential for the game. I strongly believe that this strategy will change perceptions and help remove the social barriers to participation whilst continuing to support the serious players on their pathway to the England team.
“We want to welcome every girl and woman into the game regardless of ability, background or age. There has never been a more important time for football to play its part in supporting girls and women to become physically active and to lead and administer the game.”
The FA's eight priority areas in the 'Gameplan for Growth’ are:
- Building a sustainable and successful high-performance system
- Building a world-class talent pipeline
- Increasing the number and diversity of women’s coaches, referees and administrators in the sport at all levels
- Developing participation opportunities and infrastructure
- Changing perceptions and social barriers to participation and following
- Enhancing the profile and value of the England team and players
- Signposting opportunities to participate, watch or follow
- Improving the commercial prospects in women’s football.
The new strategy will be supported by four key appointments at the FA, who have brought on board a new head of women’s performance (David Faulkner), a new head of women’s coach development (Audrey Cooper), a women’s refereeing manager (Joanne Stimpson) and a head of marketing and commercial for women’s football (Marzena Bodganowicz).
The bold drive to increase participation will be supported by the development of a network of 200 new girls' football clubs, called 'Wildcats', which will provide local, safe and girl-friendly football programmes. Local women’s and girls’ football strategies will also be implemented for each County FA.
Other initiatives to support the strategy include player profiling, the creation of a new talent pathway, a full competition review of the women’s leagues and the establishment of 10 women’s high-performance centres.
The FA has also expressed its ambition to stage a major international tournament in the coming years as it seeks to inspire the next generation and ultimately set a new benchmark for women’s football across the globe.