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Football: London FA launches scheme to engage more girls

PUBLISHED: 09:30 12 February 2018

The London FA has launched a scheme to find 100 new coaches to deliver football sessions for girls (pic Hamish Blair/ The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

The London FA has launched a scheme to find 100 new coaches to deliver football sessions for girls (pic Hamish Blair/ The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

"2010 The FA"

The London Football Association has today announced the launch of its ground-breaking new girls football scheme, London Leopards, backed by significant investment from Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST).

As a key part of this initiative, the London FA is searching for 100 new female coaches to deliver its sessions.

In line with the national FA’s strategy for women’s and girls’ football, which aims to double participation by 2020, the London FA is leading the drive regionally with its new four-year project, which will be backed by £200,000 worth of funding in partnership with WNST.

The project aims to recruit and train 100 new female coaches who will then deliver fun football introduction sessions to 1,000 7-11-year-old girls.

The London FA has identified training more female coaches as a top priority in its own women’s and girl’s strategy – to increase opportunities for women in this area of the sport and maximise the positive impact having female coaches or role models can have on a young girl’s development.

Women’s football is on the rise in the UK, developing fast in terms of participation levels, professionalism in the top tiers and more funding and opportunities at grassroot levels.

However, there is still much to be done in terms of female coaching and creating opportunities in this part of the game. Just seven per cent of football coaches in London are women*.

By actively promoting free coaching courses through London Leopards, the London FA hopes to breakdown some of the barriers experienced by women by providing equal opportunities and creating the right environment for those who take up courses to flourish.

To help deliver football to more girls in the capital, the London FA will train 100 new female coaches through their Level 1 qualifications and provide them with the right opportunities and support required to deliver London Leopards sessions.

Nationally, only 11 per cent of 5 to 9-year-old girls play football compared to 52 per cent of boys of the same age. The number of girls playing football between the ages of 10-11 rises to 41 per cent, but this again pales in comparison to the 88 per cent of 10-11-year-old boys who play the sport**.

The new London Leopards scheme will consist of football sessions led by female coaches, to engage girls aged 7 to 11-years-old who might never have played the sport before. The focus of the initiative will be to introduce young girls to football in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, with emphasis placed on the social and fitness aspects of the sport.

Lisa Pearce, chief executive officer of the London FA, said: “The London FA is launching this new initiative as part of our wider drive to engage more women and girls in football across London and enrich their lives as a result.

“It’s no secret that there is a huge disparity in sport and physical activity levels between boys and girls. In London specifically, 88 per cent of boys between the ages of 14 and 15 play football, compared with just 35 per cent of girls. We hope that by introducing the sport to girls at a younger age in a fun and sociable way, delivered by female coaches, these gaps will start to close as they reach teenage years.”

Karen Hills, manager of Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, a delivery partner of London Leopards, addded: “I’m delighted to be supporting the London Leopards project and believe it will be a catalyst in driving increased female participation in football across London.

“It’s important for young girls to have strong, successful female role models that they can look up to and be inspired by from a young age. We need to show young girls that there are women involved in football at all levels, in all positions who they can relate to. The London Leopards project will initially give these girls a great accessible platform to play football and hopefully create a love of the game which will see them continue to participate and transition into clubs.”

Kelly Simmons, participation and development director of the FA, adds: “Having set out our bold vision for the growth in women’s and girls’ football nationally, we’re excited to see the London FA leading the way on a regional basis. London Leopards provides a real opportunity to make a significant and sustained difference to participation levels in London.”

Stewart Goshawk, chief executive officer of Wembley National Stadium Trust, said: “We know sport has the power to change lives and communities for the better. Sadly, there is a significant gender gap between girls and boys taking part in football.

“The London Leopards initiative aligns with our own aim of getting more people of all ages and abilities to play sport, so we look forward to making a real difference alongside the London FA over the next four years.”

*The London Leopards initiative will be delivered by seven Professional Club Community Trusts – AFC Wimbledon Foundation, Arsenal Women, Charlton Athletic Women’s, Chelsea Foundation, Leyton Orient Trust, Millwall Community Trust, QPR FC in the Community Trust and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

These partners will each deliver an eight-week introduction to football programme outside of school hours, as well as school roadshows. The clubs have also been tasked with identifying pathways after the initial eight weeks, to offer girls the chance to transition into their grassroots clubs or other similar programmes. In year one of this project, 100 sessions will be delivered with a target 25 per cent conversion rate into further playing opportunities.

Charlotte Edwards, women and girls’ football development manager at QPR FC in the Community Trust, said: “The new London Leopards scheme is the perfect chance for us to drive girls’ participation in partnership with London FA.

“This programme has the opportunity to inspire every girl to love the game, utilising strong role models and giving girls the opportunity to play and watch more football, which in turn will help to grow their confidence and skills through football.”

For more information about the London Leopards initiative and how to apply for the coaching courses, visit londonfa.com.

Applications open Monday February 12.

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