England’s aim to meet the demand for women’s football

England’s aim to meet the demand for women’s football

England’s aim to meet the demand for women’s football

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<p><figcaption class=Director of photography: Tom Jenkins / The Guardian

Within days of England’s victory in the European Championships, grassroots women’s football teams reported being overwhelmed by increased demands.

However, access to football varies across the country, with some areas lacking women’s teams of all ages. Only 44% of secondary schools offer girls and boys equal access to football. In addition, travel expenses and expenses are a hindrance for some girls taking the field.

Here, parents and those involved in youth football discuss what the opportunities are in their area.

“There are great local teams, but schools need to improve”

Fi Star-Stone, a 47-year-old coach for an under 13 women’s team in Stafford, says her area offers a number of opportunities for girls to play. “We are a small town but we have several teams,” she says, describing the local access as “fantastic”. She says the FA has provided good support, including funding the coaching course she took with her club Stafford Town FC.

However, there is room for improvement in the schools, the coach says. “Most offer netball for girls and soccer for boys, which is why so many girls are turning to their local clubs to find a place to play,” says Star-Stone, adding that “they’d love to see football added to their resume. physical education for girls. “It is particularly important given that extracurricular sports are not accessible to all girls, especially in the” current climate where anything extra is a burden. Not everyone can afford to go there or play outside of school … If it were in the curriculum they would all have the opportunity to play football. “

“Local access is good, for girls whose parents have money”

Adele Richards, the 57-year-old treasurer of an Oldham under-11 women’s football team, knows how limited local access can be for underprivileged girls. “Access is good enough for girls whose parents have money,” she says, explaining that her daughter and a local coach created a girls’ team at a nearby elementary school in 2013 to remedy this imbalance. The school funded the team to play in the North Manchester Girls League and allowed them to train in the schoolyard.

However, the school withdrew the funds a couple of years ago, leaving the team to raise money to practice at another location. “We got the parents together and explained what happened to them,” Richards says. “Parents who could afford to pay do so; children who can’t, don’t and are supported by parents who can. We can’t take a child away. We keep our costs to a minimum. We fight, but we do it thanks to those parents who help the poorest girls and through fundraising ”.

“My area is a bit of a center for women’s football”

Dominic Weaver, a 50-year-old communications professional, describes St Ives, Cambridgeshire, as “a hub of sorts” for women’s football. The city has two clubs for each gender, and Weaver coaches the under-18 women’s team in which her 17-year-old daughter plays. Her club, St Ives Rangers FC, has women’s teams for every age group, starting with under -10s. “It’s a bit of a hotbed for women’s football,” he says. “There are some really good coaches and there are a couple of players who have gone through the club and played for England in the under 17 and under 19”.

Weaver says the enthusiasm of a physical education teacher at the local comprehensive school made a huge impact. She “she was so polite towards the girls: she stands on the sidelines and cheers on them and offers personal support during their games.”

He is eager to see how women’s football will continue to grow, adding that he has heard from other coaches that there has been a surge of interest after the European Championships. The impact of England’s victory didn’t stop with the girls: “The other day I was playing a match with some coaches. When one of the guys scored a heel goal, someone yelled, he hit a [Alessia] Russian!”

‘Culture must change as well as access’

Anna’s six-year-old daughter has been playing football at an after-school club in north London for nearly a year, but she almost gave up a few months ago because she was the only girl on his mixed team.

The 38-year-old professor says her daughter came home one day upset because a five- and six-year-old boy on her team made a comment that “girls aren’t that good at football.” “It wasn’t harmful,” says Anna. “But it shows the culture it has absorbed.”

Anna and her husband persuaded their daughter to move on and exchanged a few words with the club organizers, which she said were “fantastic”. She “she came home a few weeks later and she said she was the top player: now she is more confident and she has fun. There are at least two other girls on the team now, “she says, adding that her daughter” loved watching Lionesses. “

He believes the team’s victory will have a real impact on football culture: “Would that guy say girls aren’t that good now that he’s seen the win?”

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