TO coincide with International Day of the Girl on Monday 11th October, The FA launched a new campaign – Let Girls Play – which supports their strategic ambition to give all girls equal access to play football in school by 2024.
Backed by Let Girls Play ambassadors Abi aged 17 and Olivia aged 15, along with Barclays’ ambassador, Kelly Smith MBE, the Let Girls Play campaign will inspire and empower communities and schools to want to help make change, unlocking equal opportunities for girls to participate in the sport. Only 63% of schools currently offer girls’ football in PE lessons.
The FA’s ambition, as seen in the women’s and girls’ Inspiring Positive Change Strategy, is to have 75% of schools providing equal access to football for girls in PE lessons by 2024, and the #LetGirlsPlay campaign supports this ambition by encouraging people to stop, listen and see how they can make a difference to this current challenge.
The campaign’s website provides inspiring resources to help influence the start of change and allow more girls to feel the mental and physical benefits of exercise through playing football. As part of the campaign, The FA will be working with a group of young women aged 14-18, all passionate about making a difference for girls who want to play football – their ‘Change Squad’.
As long-standing powerful advocates, they will use their voices to help change long-held perceptions around the sport. The FA’s Director of Women’s Football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said: “Momentum is building as next summer’s UEFA Women’s Euros get ever closer, but we do not want to wait until then to inspire and empower others to help create equal access to playing football at school.”
“Currently, only a third of girls aged 5-18 participate in football every week, and we want to change that. Now is the time to drive a far-reaching ambition to open up the game in every way to girls and the Let Girls Play campaign allows parents and teachers to play a huge role in joining us in this commitment.”
Former England International and Barclays ambassador Kelly Smith MBE added: “When Barclays asked me to be part of the #LetGirlsPlay campaign, I couldn’t have been quicker to say yes. The campaign is one that’s very close to my heart and something I am extremely passionate about when it comes to providing equal access to football for young girls.”
“When I started my journey in football, I had no other choice but to play in a local boys’ team and wasn’t offered the opportunity to play football in school during PE lessons. This has progressed hugely over the last few years, and I’m proud to be part of The FA’s #LetGirlsPlay campaign which will really make a difference to the young girls like I was who just want to play football.”
Olivia, aged 15 and pioneer for equal access to football for young girls, commented: “I want every girl to have the opportunity to play football, just like boys. I think The FA’s #LetGirlsPlay campaign is a fantastic way to drive the equal access change and allow girls like me to feel supported, encouraged and given confidence to play football at every possible opportunity.”
To find out more about the campaign, and to see how you can help and make a difference to giving girls equal access to football in schools, go to www.englandfootball.com/LetGirlsPlay. You can also join the movement via social media by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.