The FA chose Manchester Metropolitan University as a pioneering place for women’s football to launch its Girls’ Football Week.
The initiative has been running nationally this week with events across England after it was launched at the Platt Lane sport facility on Monday.
The scheme is focused on encouraging girls in further and higher education to try football or to get back into the sport.
The launch event took place in the ‘dome’ indoor pitch with the FA, British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and St Saint Saviour Ringley C of E Primary School.
It also featured Manchester City FC and England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley – who is also a student on the University’s Master of Sport Directorship programme – and Amy Turner, Liverpool FC and England defender.
Centre of excellence
There was also a friendly match between Manchester Metropolitan and the University of Manchester’s (UoM) women’s teams. Together, both universities form one of only eight FA women’s football high-performance centres.
Charlotte Healy, Women’s Coach Development Officer at Manchester Metropolitan and UoM, said: “Girls’ Football Week is a fantastic opportunity for us to engage females from primary school age all the way through to our university students on one of our High Performance Centre sites.
“Launching the BUCS Girls’ Football Week on Monday meant we were able to run sessions and games for primary school girls as well as a 5v5 tournament between Manchester Metropolitan and UoM students in collaboration with Manchester’s newly launched FA High Performance Centre.
“Having Amy Turner and Karen Bardsley down was fantastic, they were brilliant with the girls answering questions, posing for photos and passing on their tips during a Q+A session. With Amy being a qualified teacher and Karen currently studying for her Master of Sport Directorship, it was really inspiring for our students to see that playing football at a high level alongside your studies is both important and possible.
“Seeing so many girls leave at the end of the day with huge smiles on their faces clutching autographs just shows the effect the Lionesses and initiatives like this have on the next generation of young girls.”
Growing the game
As part of the FA Girls’ Football Week 2016, over 80,000 participants took part in over 1,000 events. This week marked the sixth year of the nationwide participation initiative.
Kelly Simmons, FA Participation and Development Director, said: “What we want to see is more females of all ages playing the game and we have set ourselves the target of doubling participation by 2020 via our Gameplan for Growth strategy.
“At the very heart of The FA Girls’ Football Week is giving girls throughout the country the chance to try football, have some fun, keep fit and make a new group of friends. Hopefully girls who don’t play football regularly, will enjoy the sessions and be inspired to take up the game in the future.”