With over 1.4 million women and girls currently playing football in Britain, it is the country’s most popular female team sport for participation. Since 2013 when a strategy launched by the football league trust, the FA and the Premier League the number of females between 14-25 years old regularly taking part in football has risen by over 20,000. These figures show that interest in female football has never been higher, in regards to both the amateur and professional sides of the game.
The FA has introduced schemes aimed at three age categories: 5-11 year olds, 12- year olds and 16+. This means that girls of all ages have the opportunity to play as much as football as they wish, which can be seen from the statistics stated above.
5-11 year olds
Children of this age are able to join in and be coached in over 1,000 primary schools with the FA Skills Programme, offering unique learning opportunities for children between 5-11 years old. As boys and girls are able to play together on the same team at this young age, this allows for development of their playing abilities and their social skills.
12-15 year olds
Football mash up is aimed specifically at this age range to allow for football to as enjoyable, as possible while allowing for as much skill development as possible, with the sessions taking place all over the country and after school.
Another programme initiated by the FA is one called “team sixteen”, which is an intra-school football programme aimed at children aged 11-16. It launched in 2013 and has been delivered in over 200 schools in the first year, engaging over 40,000 students in total. This initiative is aimed at pupils who are not taking part in sporting activity outside of school physical education lessons.
16+ year olds
There are a number of programmes and schemes aimed at females of this age, which include ‘Team Nineteen’, ‘Team Twenty Three’ and ‘Mars Just Play’. These all aim to allow for the maximal amount of participation and to facilitate lifelong participation. ‘Team Nineteen’ is to encourage girls who are studying at college and ‘Team Twenty Three’ is a similar scheme, however specifying at university level.
The FA website allows parents and players alike to search for a local team in their area. This demonstrating a simple effort being made by the FA to provide the tools to find grass roots teams for players, as well as those select people who would like to volunteer to work with the coaches in a leadership role within the teams.
Although the popularity in the professional game in England is improving, with a record of over 55,000 having attended a game at Wembley against Germany, some of the players in the FA Women’s Super League are not full time professional athletes, this according to England’s Rachel Yankey.
The way to get girls involved in football starts at school and in PE lessons. Members of staff should therefore have a good knowledge of the schemes in place from the FA and any local teams which the girls can play in.