Wildcats growing girls football participation in England

The SSE Wildcats programme, we started it last year. We started with 199 centres. They’re there to support girls aged 5-11 in their first journey in football and the community. They might not be ready for a club yet, so it’s like a bridging gap. The idea is to have fun and give these girls the confidence to play football for the first time. I enjoy playing football and learning new skills. My favourite part is the activities and learning new stuff. We want the girls to shape what we do here, and that fun and enjoyment is so important to them. We want to make sure that they keep their smiles on their faces from the moment they come down to the moment they walk off the pitch. Every game that we’ve developed has been done in partnership with young girls so it’s absolutely about what they love about the game. We start off with a warm-up and we play a lot of games. With the age group that I work with – I work with the younger girls, the five to seven-year-olds – we play a lot of games to improve mobility and fitness. At the end of the session, we have a reward every week for the star player of the week. My favourite part is the goalie training and playing all the matches. If you enjoy matches then this is a great place to come. I was actually banned from playing football when I was seven because of my gender. Without a doubt that defined the role I wanted to play in trying to help girls play because I didn’t get the chance to. So when I look at them, I’m really jealous because I wish I could have been a little SSE Wildcats girl and play football like they’re doing. I look at it and think: ‘I didn’t get the chance but we are now giving all these chances to these girls to play now’. And I feel that it’s fair again, it’s right. If you’re not really into football, you should still come here because you can learn new stuff. It’s just really fun. The FIFA funding actually goes to the centres directly and those centres use that funding to pay for the venue, kit, equipment and any of the coaching costs. We want all the centres to be safe environments that have all the necessary information that they need.We couldn’t do without that funding, so we really do appreciate all the support that FIFA have given us.

8 thoughts on “Wildcats growing girls football participation in England

  1. It’s mad to think that I was once a girl who started with wildcats now I’m watching younger girls do the same thing I did

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