Summer 2022 was a defining moment for women’s football in the UK when the Lionesses won the Euro’s, their first major tournament. I think it was safe to say this championship really engaged the country and inspired girls of all ages to follow and get involved in football. Whether it be giving it a go for the first time, joining a local grassroots team or joining us at the Football Fun Factory!
If you go back to when I was playing grassroots, the opportunities for girls to play were few and far between. I never had any girls in the grassroots teams I played in, nor did many join in matches on the playground!
My wife Becky had to plead with the PE teacher to play football with the boys as there were no grassroots opportunities for her until she turned 18, when she could join a local women’s team. Sadly, there just wasn’t anything around for young girls to start their journey into football. No opportunities to simply play and learn new skills, only adult competitive football.
Now the opportunity for girls is growing, and I was delighted to launch our All-Girls Football Fun and Development session in March 2022. Unsure of what the take-up would be I was literally blown away and delighted when at our first session, we had 20 girls arrive for a three-week free trial; fast forward 11 months we have 32 girls on the register for this weekly session!
Why are girls only sessions so important?
I found with our mixed group, we didn’t have many girls attend, and those that did had either played football with their brothers in the garden or played it at school. However, most girls simply didn’t enjoy playing with the boys or are more comfortable expressing themselves in a girl only environment! We also found that aside from grassroots football teams, girls had few options to play!
Our sessions are the same as our mixed sessions; however, we found that the girls like to be challenged a lot more, so our skill sessions, particularly for the older groups, need to be more technical on the ball.
Boys tend to like the matches more and scoring goals! Whereas in our girls only matches, they tend to enjoy the teamwork side of the game, and we certainly see the girls work together, motivate each other and encourage each other a lot more!
Goals are not the be-all and end-all at Girls Only Football Fun and Development. It’s more the social side, a fun hour of football with their mates!
Head Coach Jon Radford delivers his Football Fun Factory experiences in Exeter, including his girls only sessions!