Women's Football

FA wants equal access to grassroots football for girls in schools by 2024

Jamie Spencer
Apr 30, 2021, 12:00 PM GMT+1
The FA wants girls to have the same opportunities as boys to play football
The FA wants girls to have the same opportunities as boys to play football | Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

The FA is aiming to ensure that every girl has the same opportunities as boys to play football at school by 2024, either in PE lessons or extra-curricular clubs.

The governing body has already implemented a host of grassroots measures that will not only help produce the next generation of Lionesses, but also equip lots of girls with confidence as well as the social and emotional skills to succeed in whatever walk of life they choose.

Across four stands, the FA seeks to provide football for education, fun, competition and excellence, ensuring that the sport can offer a positive and inclusive experience for all girls on whatever path. Some may only wish to play informally with friends, others may want a more competitive environment, while a few could go all the way to the top and play internationally one day.

As things stand, girls have less opportunity to play football than boys
As things stand, girls have less opportunity to play football than boys | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

The FA has so far established 152 Girls’ Football School Partnerships, which are supported by Barclays, covering 9,650 schools or 42% of all schools in England. But the ambition is to increase that number to 300 partnerships by 2024 reaching 90% of all schools, primary and secondary, in England.

As things stand in 2021, 63% of all schools in England are offering girls equal access to football through PE lessons and only 40% through extra-curricular clubs outside school hours.

By 2024, The FA strategy is to increase access through PE lessons to 75% and access through extra-curricular clubs to 90%. Training teachers to give them the knowledge, skills and confidence to provide girls with access to play football is the crucial way this will be achieved.

An FA Shooting Stars programme is specifically aimed at primary school girls aged 5-11 and uses Disney storytelling to inspire them to become more physically active, teaching fundamental movements used in football. There are currently 2,630 primary schools and 2,996 teachers trained to deliver this, with the target for 2024 set at 8,087 primary schools and teachers.

Chelsea Ladies Coaching Q and A
The FA is targeting schools as a way to give more girls the chance to play football | Warren Little/Getty Images

Weetabix Wildcats is another primary school initiative aimed at offering fun football opportunities for girls to play for the first time. There are 1,715 providers, with the aim to increase to 3,000.

For secondary school girls between the ages of 11 and 14, the FA’s Game of Our Own programme, another supported by Barclays, will help PE staff plan a more explicit life skills approach to teaching through girls’ football, as well as increasing engagement in girls’ football. The 2024 target is to go from 680 schools and 804 teachers to 1,646 trained in delivering the programme.

A further programme aimed at early teenagers will soon be piloted that aims to keep those girls who have played football before engaged with the sport, as well as introducing new girls. It will soon be piloted in Euro 2022 host cities and the 2024 plan is to have 1,000 providers across England.

Finally, Barclays is supporting Female Friendly club training, which is an FA workshop aimed at club personnel to provide practical advice for clubs to develop their women’s and girls’ provision. There are currently 618 FA accredited ‘Female Friendly’ clubs, with 3,000 the aim for 2024.

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