Posted: 17 November 2020

FA and YST Team Up to Fight for Footballing Equality

The FA and Youth Sport Trust have teamed up to ensure girls have equal access to football at school by 2024, with the Girls’ Football School Partnerships initiative.

How will they help girls to access football?

The Girls’ Football School Partnerships will support schools in providing girls with the same opportunity to play football in school. Partner schools will be given access to training, resources, equipment and networking opportunities.

There will even be opportunities for partner schools to attend high-profile women’s football matches, to inspire girls.

This academic year there are 150 FA Girls’ School Football Partnerships in operation – by 2024 it’s hoped that there will be 300, leading to around 90% of all primary and secondary schools in England becoming part of the network.

Why is it important to get more girls playing football?

Football is the national sport and one that both men and women enjoy as spectators, as well as players. But for many years, English football has been dominated by the men’s game.

But you may not realise that English women have a long history of playing football .

In fact, women’s football was pretty big as far back as the 19th century. In the 1890s, one women’s game in Crouch End was said to have attracted a crowd of around 10,000. And in 1920, 53,000 watched a match between Dick Kerr’s Ladies and St. Helen’s Ladies.

This clearly shows that not only were there women who wanted to play football, but there was also significant public interest in women’s matches.

It was the FA themselves that put a stop to women playing football, as it banned women from playing on the grounds of affiliated clubs in 1921, saying that ‘football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.’

This ban was only lifted in 1971, two years after the Women’s Football Association was formed.

It’s been a long road back for women’s football, but by 2002 it had already become the top participation sport for women and girls in England and saw a major boost in 2015 when the Lionesses won bronze at the Women’s World Cup.

And the FA are now working incredibly hard to boost women’s football in England. In fact, the Girls’ Football Schools Partnership is just one part of their wider 4-year strategy, titled Inspiring Positive Change, which aims to create a sustainable future for women and girls’ football in England, from grassroots to elite level.

So, it’s all about redressing an historical injustice?

Not quite. Football offers loads of incredible benefits for girls, from encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle, to learning the importance of teamwork and even as an opportunity to grow their self-confidence.

A study in 2017 involving 4,000 girls showed that teenage girls who play football have higher levels of self-confidence, self-esteem, wellbeing and motivation than their peers who play no sports. But they also had higher levels of all these things than their peers who played other sports, showing that football is of particular benefit to girls in terms of how they see themselves.

And giving them the same opportunity as their male peers to get involved in the nation’s favourite sport also reminds them that they can be whatever they want to be and that they don’t have to be pigeonholed by outdated gender stereotypes.

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