I love that quote; to me its all about giving girls the tools they need to achieve. Too often this isn’t that easy. It saddens me that in 2016 it is often still men who have the better opportunities, the better rate of pay and the more support.
This blog is all about celebrating; so for me Girls Football Week is a perfect opportunity to celebrate what is out there for girls, to help them find their local team, to let them try football for the first time and to change the ideas people have about girls and football.
This year Girls Football Week is starting on Monday 25th April and is going to be promoting and celebrating all things football. Schools and community groups will be putting on special skills sessions for girls to try and will be championing the FAs ‘We Can Play’ campaign.
We were really lucky that last week we were invited to Wembley Stadium to learn exactly what it is like to be a girl who wants to play football and for R to take part in some skills sessions. Football has always been a big part of our family and R has always known the names of teams and been interested in what is going on but she has never thought about playing football before. The FA found that just like R only half of the girls they surveyed felt that football was a game for them.
When I told her that we would be celebrating Girls Football Week she was really excited; excited for what she would be doing at Wembley, excited about telling her friends and excited for the things I had planned for home. Her excitement was infectious and the four of us headed off to Wembley looking forward to hearing even more.
When we arrived at the stadium we had the pleasure of listening to ex-England and current Arsenal Ladies player Kelly Smith. Kelly spoke about how difficult it was to play football when she was a girl. I think as a parent what shocked me was the fact that at 7, Kelly was kicked out of Garston Boys Football Club, even though she was their highest goal scorer! And this was because the parents of the male opponents complained! She went on to tell us how girls football has changed and now its the largest played female sport in England with over 2.89 million players.
After the presentation from the FA and Kelly; we had the excitement of having a tour around Wembley Stadium. This was made even more special as we had Kelly join us giving us an insight of what it is like to play in a world class stadium. For all the girls who attended it was a fantastic moment to see that if you work hard and follow your dreams you really can achieve amazing things.
After the tour we all headed over to the Wembley Powerleague Pitches for a football skills session with Kelly and the FA coaches. The sun was shining and R absolutely loved the training exercises and the little match at the end. She tried something that she hadn’t done before and she absolutely loved it. Which is exactly why this week is so important; it is giving girls the opportunity to have a go and to realise that football is not a game “just for boys”. H loved the fruit buffet that had been kindly provided by Lidl UK (he pretty much tried everything and spoke of it as a highlight of the day!!).
I was so inspired by the message from the FA and Kelly Smith that I took it back to the primary school I teach at two days a week and have started to plan some celebrations during Girls Football Week. The FA have has created some free to use resources; including session guides and promotional materials. These can be assessed by registering at TheFA.com/GirlsFootballWeek.
I will also be sharing with the girls at school and their parents where the local teams are in our area, directing them to TheFA.com/PlayFootball and talking about The FA Skills Programme. Which is a nationwide initiative providing after school and holiday football coaching; giving children the opportunity to be the best that they can be.
We will be celebrating Girls Football Week next week at home by encouraging R to join in when H is playing football in the garden and by enjoying football as a family. I want my children to grow up thinking they can achieve any goal they set out to achieve, that they can be the best at their chosen thing if they work hard and to be fighters, never giving up. I want them to live in a world where they have many opportunities and to be confident to go and get their dreams. I want my girl to always have the right shoes and to confidently take over the world.
Make sure you join us on Instagram (@acupfullofglitter) next week and follow the hashtag #wecanplay to see more celebrations from Girls Football Week.
We were very kindly invited by The FA to meet Kelly Smith, have a tour of Wembley Stadium and take part in the skills sessions. All words and opinions in this post are my own.