New Uefa campaign wants increase in girls playing the game
UEFA revealed plans yesterday to make football the top participation sport for girls and women by 2022.
The Together #WePlayStrong campaign will be launched ahead of Euro 2017 and comes on the back of new research which suggests football can have a greater positive impact on teenage girls’ self-confidence than other popular sports.
More than 4,000 girls and young women from six European countries, including England, took part in the survey and were asked questions about the effect various sports have on their motivation, self-esteem and the development of life skills.
The survey, which was led by a team from the University of Birmingham, found that girls who play football are more confident than girls who do not play sport, and than girls who play other sports.
Uefa women’s football adviser Nadine Kessler said: “This study shows that girls who play football have greater self-confidence than those who don’t play the game. Drawing upon my own experience, I can’t emphasise enough how important this is when you are growing up.
“I am certain that we can change perceptions and make it cool for teenage girls to play football. If we manage to achieve this, we will be on our way to achieving our goal of making football the number one sport for girls around Europe.”
Kessler played 29 times for Germany and won the world and European women’s player of the year awards in 2014.
According to the study, 80 per cent of teenage girls exhibited more confidence thanks to playing with a football club versus 74 per cent of those who played other sports.
Just over half said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I am less concerned what others think about me as a result of playing my sport,” compared with 41 per cent of those who played other sports, and there was a similar finding for a question about overcoming a lack of self-confidence.
This is a strategy fully supported by the home nations, as the women’s game has huge potential for growth.
A record crowd of more than 35,000 was at Wembley last Saturday to watch Manchester City beat Birmingham in the Women’s FA Cup final.
And in a further boost to the game, Southampton announced a new under-21 team.
Executive director of football Les Reed said: “It’s fantastic news. It just shows how rapidly the girls’ and women’s programme has taken off, and how quickly we’ve moved from negotiating the takeover of the County Centre of Excellence into a Regional Talent Club and now a women’s team.
“It will be a very young women’s team, which goes with our profile as a club — young players to develop for the future — but it will contain a number of international players and high-quality young girls who have got bright futures in the game, so it is very exciting indeed.”