FA Event Brings In Girls Across Shropshire
Huge thanks to Eve Bailey and her team from Shropshire County FA for all the hard work they have put in leading up to the event to ensure girls in the County have the opportunity to play. We hope to see these girls continuing to play football in the future as a result of today supporting our aim to double female participation!”
Caroline Hulme Women’s Football National Project Officer for the FA commented: "It is fantastic to see so many young girls enjoying playing football here today, some of whom it is their first experience of football and may even be the very first time they have kicked a ball.
The girls got to experience a multitude of activities including 5-a-side games, hair braiding and innovative testing equipment working on reaction and speed times. The session was run by FA approved coaches and included the new ContiWarmUp programme, giving the children a great insight into the standard of coaching that the professionals receive.
The festivals are a joint initiative by The FA and Continental Tyres, providing an exciting, interactive football experience for both those new to the game and regular players. With an end goal of achieving increased participation through furthering opportunities available to young girls that may not have had chances before.
But events like this go to show that it is a women’s game and they are more than welcome to get involved with it and take it home with them and carry on playing where they live”.
Katie believes that the festivals “makes them (young girls) realise there are opportunities for them and half the problem with the girls is sometimes from the way other people portray football as its not meant to be a women’s game.
Both girls agree that if kids don’t have a family connection they might struggle to get involved with sport in general. Elisha believes the festivals give “a way to show girls that other girls do play. A lot of the girls have grown up playing with boys, so showing that other girls do play, they can look to get on other teams”.
In addition to the opportunities that these festivals present for the younger children Katie noted it also gave the players opportunities to act as role models: “they (the children) need to look up to somebody, and for us to be the people they look up to, and maybe go home and say ‘I want to be like that’ or ‘I want to be in that position because of this person’, it is a really good feeling and knowing that you are helping them and inspiring them is nice”.
Elisha believes that the increased presence is “good as we can show the girls they can get involved and they can get involved and that there is a pathway for them”, while Katie wanted to highlight the development within the sport; “events like this make it clear to the younger kids that there is a lot more going into women’s football, its developing there is a lot more money going into it, there are more opportunities for them, and hopefully this will give them confidence to want play a lot more and hopefully when they are older as well.”
Both players from Aston Villa Ladies noted the importance of stressing the increasing presence of the women’s game in the modern day.
Also, if they do enjoy it and they think they can get something more out of it then to take it back to their local clubs and see if there is an age group or team for them that they can then do it on a day to day or week to week basis”
When Katie Wilkinson was asked about what she thought was important for the girls to take away from the festival she believed that “most of all the girls need to enjoy it, that’s the important thing, because if you enjoy something you want to do more.
The day presented an opportunity for the children to relate with local girls who have made it onto the professional stage, offering inspiration to all those that may look to follow in their footsteps and a potential role model to look up to.
The first festival of the year organised with the support of Shropshire County FA, was a resounding success with girls having the opportunity to learn the trade from some of the country’s best in Katie Wilkinson and Elisha N’Dow, who attended the festival from Aston Villa Ladies FC. Both players got actively involved with the girls, taking part in the refereeing workshop, whilst also being available for the girls to ask any number of questions they had.
The girls, whose ages ranged between 6 and 15, were the first of many this season to have a chance to experience the FA Girls’ Football Festival in association with Continental Tyres.
320 girls descended on Ludlow football stadium on Wednesday, bringing with them endless enthusiasm, with attitudes to match that even the weather couldn’t dampen.