'Game Changer' for women's football

FA announces five-year plan to improve women’s football in England

The Football Assocation has launched a new plan for the future of women’s football in England.

The five-year strategy, entitled Game Changer, aims to harness the momentum from the London 2012 Olympics and turn women’s football into the second largest team sport in the country, behind only men’s football, by 2018.

Sport England figures show that 253,600 women currently play football each month, placing the game behind only men’s football, cricket and rugby in terms of participation at grassroots level.

Now the FA wants to build on these figures and harness the raised profile of the game from this summer’s Olympics – which shattered attendance and TV viewing figures for women’s football – to drive the women’s game forward at all levels.

A Club Website poll has revealed that seven out of eight Club Website members would like to see a Team GB women’s team compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics, a scenario that the FA remain open to despite ruling out the possibility of a men’s team appearing at the Games.

The FA celebrates its 150th anniversary next year and, as they approach the milestone, they are keen to make a strong women’s game a cornerstone of the next phase of their development plans.

They hope that the ‘Game Changer’ strategy, which includes plans for an Elite Performance Unit, a women’s Future Game document and coaching strategy, a new and distinct commercial strategy for women’s football and an expanded Women’s Super League, helps them to demonstrate their commitment to the women’s game.

FA Chairman David Bernstein said: “Women’s football is the area with the most potential for growth in the nation’s favourite game.

“We are determined to lead that development at every level and have created a robust plan for doing so using all our resources and knowledge.”

The ‘Game Changer’ strategy – FA commitments:

Create an Elite Performance Unit (EPU) and appoint a Head of Elite Development

* The EPU will develop the best young players via the talent development pathway of 31 Centres of Excellence, 29 player development centres and elite performance camps;

* The Head of EPU will develop a ‘Future Game’ performance document for women’s football and a coaching strategy continuing the work of the FA’s Female Coach Mentoring Scheme.

Deliver a new commercial strategy for women’s football

* For the first time in FA history there will be a distinct commercial programme for women’s football to help the game have a clear identity and become financially more sustainable;

* The commercial rights for England Women, the FA Women’s Cup and the FA WSL will be sold separately from rights for the men’s game to establish a clear identity in a crowded sports marketplace;

* More broadcast coverage will be secured and strong commercial partnerships forged to elevate the profile of the women’s game.

Expand the FA WSL

* The FA will introduce an FA WSL2 in 2014 to enable promotion and relegation, expanding a competition format that is driving up playing standards and improving awareness of the women’s game.

Grow participation

* The FA want women’s football to become the second largest team sport after men’s football by 2018 based on independent Sport England research, with 253,600 women playing football each month (currently fourth behind men’s football, cricket and rugby).

Click here to read the ‘Game Changer’ strategy in full (pdf).

Game Changer – Have your say!

What do you think of the FA’s new strategy for women’s football? Will it be the ‘Game Changer’ that they want it to be?

Have your say in our comments section below!

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. JOHN DOHERTY on October 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    must say womens football is on the up having watched regular games at everton ladies watching crowds grow with cheap admission and good standards of football … and on the back of so much tv coverage with england and teamGB … however my daughter plays football for a local team hesketh colts u10s southport who play in the west lanc girls league we travel all over the north west cos of lack of teams in the area ,,, not complaining but sefton council plan to rise pitch fees from around £2000 to £10,000 for the whole club ..forcing clubs to fold ..so its grass roots football that they need to look at like ours we need funding if we are to ripped off by councils these kids are the future ..i hope this happens never seen girls so hooked and enjoying football

  2. Andy Stratton on October 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I think this a great idea which is long overdue. The womens game needs more stability especially at grassroots level and the profile of the game needs to be raised to ensure better and more secure sponsorship is involved.

  3. msb03 on October 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    It’s good to see the FA taking a forwards step again after reducing the number of Centres of Excellence from 52 down to 30 2 years ago.

    Too many girls give up football at 16+ as there are so few clubs for them to play in, more effort must be made to find clubs and decent facilities for girls to play in. We must all work together to get a girls section and representation at all ages for girls in our local football clubs even if it means combining teams between two local clubs just to get it all started

  4. Tracie on October 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Fantastic news, my daughter plays for BCLFC at their Centre of Excellence and we often go along to Support Birmingham City Ladies. The facilities and training at the CoA are excellent and this news means my daughter may have the opportunity to do what she loves, which is to play football!
    Definitely would like to see the profile of the game raised.

  5. Sean Slater on October 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I have 3 daughter’s aged 10 9 and 5 and like me they are all football mad, much to the annoyance of the wife ( I never forced them to play)

    All 3 also play football, me eldest is cuureently playing in west lancs girls league for Blackpool u11’s while having played in the lads with me for 5 years.

    My middle is probably the best technically out of the 3 and currently play’s for under 9’s and without bigging her up is probably better technically then 95% of the boys in the team. another girls play as well and she is as good as my daughter just not quite as “fit” so to speak

    My youngest has a mixture of both there best attributes, i would love nothing more then for them to progress in an era were the women’s game is getting stronger, player’s are getting alot stronger (technically very good) media exposure etc etc

    with reading it gives girls/women a real oppertunity which is fantastic.

    Ultimately regardless of what ever level the do or may end up playing at, all i want them to do is enjoy it 🙂

  6. Vincent Taylor on October 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    I’ve been lucky to watch the Kent ladies play at my local club, Sevenoaks Town.

    The football was good to watch.

  7. Alan Smith on October 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    To increase participation in Womens Football, the FA needs to invest in the development of clubs that provide football opportunities for women after the players have left schools,colleges and universities. As Womens Football is in its infancy in real terms compared to mens football, the regional league management committee`s need to be more flexible in kick-off times and how they allow players to be registered etc etc. Its all right the FA looking after the more talented players, but for womens football to develop and participation to grow its the clubs that need assistance. Its about time the FA talked to the people who run the clubs that cater for women to play football. Womens football at any sort of level is only possible on the backs of established mens football clubs, where are the stand alone womens football clubs?????????????????????????????
    How many local councils provide facilities for womens football to be played? and by that I mean facilities with proper womens changing facilities. Until these basic issues are dealt with by the FA then increases in participation in the womens game is not going to happen. Also how many times do the County FAs and the FA have to be told that when Centre of excellences take two or three of the better players from a club, that club will probably fold leaving 8 or 9 girls without a club to play for. Centre of excellences should be there to give the better players extra coaching to improve their game, but they should not be prevented from playing for their clubs when attending a Centre of excellence. “Game Changer” might help the more talented women and girl footballers but as I see it, it will not help increase participation unless clubs are included in the FA Development plan.

    Alan Smith Padiham FC Secretary, Burnley and District Football Development Group Chairman, Burnley Borough Sport and Physical activity alliance member.

  8. SallyB on October 27, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Will the FA help the ladies clubs in the lower leagues as well as the elite ones? If they are serious about increasing the numbers we all need support.

    How about some sponsorship/provision of league pitches?

  9. David Jack on October 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    It was all very well the FA reducing the number of Centres of Excellence but I think they should have looked at more factors than they did.
    My friends daughter played for the Cumbria Centre well until they closed it, now she has to travel to Blackburn three times a week which is not cheep, plus the fact when ever you ask for help from the FA or the local council and anyone else that’s suppose to be interested in women’s football, as soon as you mention help with costs NO ONE wants to know, every time you get the same answer, Sorry we can only help if she is at International level, if she made it to International level then she wouldn’t need help from the council or schools as the International team pay all her travel, so why can’t the council and others try helping the girls who need it to get to that level.
    Back to the FA and closing some centres, why leave Cumbria one of the largest land mass areas in the North plus Sunderland Centre in the North East without a means for the local girls to achieve COE training.
    The only thing I can think off is the FA in its fancy offices in the heart of London did not do well at Geography while in school, I think they think England stops about the Manchester area anything further north must be Scottish and we don’t need to bother about it.
    As I said Cumbria the largest land mass area in the UK has nothing to offer the youth of today and more so the girls who are interested in sport, Cumbria never gets any of these fancy up to date sports centres designed for every sport, where are all the colleges linked to the top of the range sports centres of major league football teams, why does the FA decide than Liverpool and Everton both need a centre of excellence they are that close together if you fouled someone in Liverpool you could end up taking the free kick in Everton, why could you not combine them and leave Cumbria with its little centre which was linked to no major team for backing I mite add, Thanks “Carlisle United” mind you can’t put the blame all on Carlisle Utd as the UK’s mightiest haulier knowing from one end of the country to the other and now in Europe too I mite add plus not only roads but rail and air too couldn’t be bothered to take an interest in Cumbria’s Centre of Excellence what chance did they ever have, Thanks “Mr Stobbart” & “Tinkler” keep spending the millions on the horses and forget about the young girls and boys of the County your Dad loved and you deserted.
    Well there you go that was quite a moan and all because the FA couldn’t leave a centre in Cumbria for the girl’s football, oh and the facts that I can’t afford to run three times a week to Blackburn.

  10. Garry Whittall on October 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Reading all these comments it reminds me a lot of my time many years ago running my daughter here there and everywhere all in the name of the beutiful game. Sadly the problems we faced all those years ago are problems everyone is still talking about now… the exact same ones we were facing when she started playing at 9 years old (she’s now 26 by the way!) I’m very proud that she could play to a good level (she played for the west Bromich Albion first team when she was just 16) but while the womans game has considerably improved over this time it is with much regret to me that the facilities provided for ALL grassroots football has (and continues to do at an alarming rate) declined, clubs up and down the land are being asked to stump up more and more year on year to use facilities that are slowly but surely getting worse and worse (even now some grounds are still without basic changing rooms and toilets) I’m sorry to dissapoint everyone but untill someone (and not just the FA) takes responsability for our childrens open spaces and our national sport (and this now involves a massive commitment to spending so dont hold your breath) I’m deeply sadned nothing will change much at all I’m afraid

  11. Bobbie on October 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    In regards to pitch fees, they are crippling clubs, in america the little league pitches are free to use and local volunteers help maintain the grounds and raise money for improvements. Is ridiculous how much local councils charge for use of a pitch.

  12. Edward Larkin on October 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    great if it works,the first womens perfesonal
    team was Fulham wfc funded entirely by
    Fulham Fc Chairman. more mens clubs should
    support the ladies, they play for the games sake
    and pay to play.
    The mens teams could donate each season
    some of their vast wages .
    One weeks would be a great help

    Gillingham Ladies Life President

  13. Sharon on November 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I totally agree with Davids comments, we live in Cornwall and only now have a PDC after the FA took their licence away from being a centre of excellence, I have a ten year old daughter whom I have been told has a unique ability yet training every week and no games will not help her achieve her ambitions of playing for England, so great to hear the FA’s news but please help us that are stranded at the bottom of the country!!!!!! How are you going to help her?????

  14. Steve Trebilcook on November 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    This could be really good for football and for all the girls that have grown up around their football loving families who so much want to play the game but have little options available to them. BUT, will it be enough? We have plenty of girls capable and very talented who would love to play (under 10’s, 11’s and 12,s) who have only one option…to play with the boys. Lets hope its a rapid development programme that focuses on all ages and not just school leavers +.

    Assistant Manager, South Darenth JFC

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