The Football Association has launched Girls’ Football Week in a bid to encourage more schools, colleges and universities to run female-specific football sessions.
Running from 5-11 October, the week has been developed from the success of previous Women’s Football Weeks, which were targeted at further and higher educational establishments.
In 2014, more than 2,000 people took part in sessions across 80 institutions. This year the programme has been extended to include more educational institutions, along with clubs and community groups, with the FA hoping 5,000 girls and women will play football during the week.
FA women’s football national project manager Polly Fildes said: “This year has seen real change and momentum in women’s football, especially with the success of the Lionesses at this summer’s World Cup, and we wanted to build on that by extending the programme.
“We want as many schools, colleges and universities to provide opportunities for their female students to play football during our national week of action and we have created the tools and materials provided to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
“We have seen some real success stories across the country with our Women’s Football Weeks, with women not just trying, but continuing to play football, and we’re hoping for the same next month. We may even find the next generation of Lionesses."
Women’s football is the largest female team sport in the country and the third largest team sport overall - behind men’s football and cricket - and England defender Alex Scott believes that Girls' Football Week can only help things improve further still.
“It’s great to see that there is a new week dedicated to getting more girls to play football," said the Arsenal defender. “Anything that gives people the opportunity and confidence to try football is really important.
“As England players, we are always happy to see girls taking part in football and want to use our platform to inspire more people to play.”
Lauren Havercroft, senior sport development officer at the University of Hull, described their involvement in Women's Football Week as "a real success", with more than 45 participants engaged in 17 hours of football related activity.
“We delivered three activities; tournament, bubble football and a drop-in session, which enabled us to provide different football activities to suit all," said Havercroft. "The sessions were built around fun, fitness and being with friends using our partners and initiatives to support promotion.
“The week has been a real benefit to our institution as we were able to engage with students we hadn’t reached before and are now proving them weekly opportunities”.
Ideas for events/sessions can be found on the FA website, while participating institutions are encouraged to complete a survey about their planned activity, which will also enter them into a draw to win a visit from an England player and a signed England shirt.
Image courtesy of thefa.com.