FEMALE footballers in the area are set to embrace FA Girls’ Football Week along with thousands of their fellow enthusiasts across the country, writes Simon Parkinson.
Players of all ages are to partake in a series of football-related activities between Monday, November 6th and Sunday, November 12th as part of an enormous nationwide event staged twice a year by the Football Association to encourage greater participation in the game by girls and women.
Gloucestershire FA (GFA) is again proving a driving force locally in backing more than 20 separate activities on offer from a range of clubs and organisations throughout the county and Bristol.
They include a regular weekly SSE Wildcats session on Monday 6th at the GFA’s Oaklands Park 3G facility between 5pm and 6pm for five to 11-year-olds, while Bristol Rovers Community Trust is to host provision for 11 to 16-year-olds between 5pm and 6pm on Thursday 9th at the same GFA football centre in Almondsbury.
Rovers Trust is also staging mums and daughters (aged five-plus) sessions at Horfield Leisure Centre on Friday 10th, also from 5-6pm (cost £2 per adult, £1 for under-16s) and on Saturday 11th, at St Paul’s Community Sports Academy in Bristol, a similar event takes place between 10am and 11am for girls aged seven up and their mums.
A brand-new league - Women’s Football 9’s - which has been formed by the GFA in partnership with Gloucestershire County Women’s League, is also set to be launched next Sunday, November 12th as the national initiative spearheaded by the game’s governing body draws to a close.
Other clubs and organisations involved in the south of the county include Stoke Gifford’s Wallscourt Farm Academy, Soccer Shooters and Clifton United, Bradley Stoke Youth FC, Lebeq Lemonades Women’s FC, St Nicholas Under-14s, Downend Saints, Ashton Park SSP (School Sport Partnership) and Tyrone Mings Academy.
When it comes to the wealth of activities on parade north of Gloucestershire, SGS College, Cheltenham Town Community Trust, Wildcats FC Tewkesbury, Cheltenham Town Ladies, Hartpury College, University of Gloucestershire, FC Highnam and Dursley Town FC all prominently feature at various stages of the week.
GFA women and girls football development officer Alexis Lunn-Gadd explained: “What we’re doing here is all part of a twice-yearly week of action to get more females of all ages involved in football.
“Clubs, schools, colleges, universities and community groups can register their activities, which can be anything from coaching sessions to keepie uppie competitions and full-on festivals, with their affiliated county football association and there will be time even during the week to do just that (email email@example.com or call 01454 615888, option 3).”
Alexis added: “We have 180-plus female teams in operation affiliated to Gloucestershire FA for mini soccer players through to girls and women.
“It’s good to see football for the under-10s definitely growing and we’re looking to double the amount of children in that age group playing the game over the next three years. It will be quite a challenge but something we’re determined to achieve.
“We’ve retained the same number of 44 teams for the 16-plus age bracket in the county this year which is encouraging.
“The Bristol Women’s Casual League involves 12 teams and we’re also about to launch the Women’s Football 9’s League which will boost participation even further.
“So far around 34,000 participants representing 728 organisations across England have signed up for FA Girls Football Week and that will continue to grow as the week goes on.”