Henry Smith MP has hailed the involvement of seven Crawley schools in the inaugural Biggest Ever Football Session hosted by The FA and Barclays around England today (Wednesday 9th March).
This initiative takes place as part of The FA’s Let Girls Play campaign. Taking place the day after International Women’s Day, the nationwide sessions will highlight the importance of unlocking equal opportunities for girls to participate in football in schools and raise awareness for the Barclays Girls Football School Partnerships programme.
“I’m delighted that seven schools in Crawley have signed up to take part in the #LetGirlsPlay Biggest Ever Football Session on 9th March.
“This is a fantastic initiative, and I welcome The FA’s ambition for all girls to have equal access to football in schools and clubs by 2024. Good luck to all taking part!”
The Crawley schools participating are Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary School, Thomas Bennett Community College, Maidenbower Junior School, Ifield Community College, Holy Trinity Church of England Secondary School, St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School, and Forge Wood Primary School.
From Cornwall to Newcastle, the event has seen a record 758 primary and secondary schools sign up to deliver bespoke football sessions, with over 61,000 children set to take part in the day. With the support of The FA’s delivery partner, Youth Sport Trust, the schools have been provided with football session ideas and resource cards from the England Football Physical Education team. These are to support teachers in the delivery of their sessions which will take place in PE lessons, before school, during lunchtime and after school.
Currently, only 63 per cent of schools offer girls’ football in PE lessons and only 40 per cent of schools offer girls regular extracurricular football. The FA’s ambition, as seen in the Inspiring Positive Change strategy, is to have 75 per cent of schools providing equal access to football for girls in PE lessons and 90 per cent of schools offering regular extracurricular football by 2024.
The Biggest Ever Football Session is part of the Let Girls Play campaign, which launched last year, supporting The FA’s strategic ambition for equal access and is backed by Barclays as part of their record-breaking investment in women and girls’ football and their commitment to the game. 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.
The Head of Development at The FA, Louise Gear, said;
“Currently girls don’t have the same opportunity as boys to play football in schools and our central strategic goal is to see that change by 2024, so that any girl who is inspired to play football will have the opportunity to do so.
“It is our hope that the Let Girls Play Biggest Ever Football Session will play a part in driving change, empowering and inspiring schools, teachers and parents across the country to join us in a show of support to unlock these unequal pathways. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of Barclays and our joint passion for equality.”
The former England international and Barclays football ambassador, Kelly Smith MBE, added;
“Although I played at the very top of the women’s game, for my generation the pathway to getting there was difficult. I had no choice but to play for boys’ teams and we weren’t offered the chance to play football at school.
“Barclays and The FA have made tremendous progress over recent years in making access to football more equal, and I’m incredibly proud to be part of the Let Girls Play campaign and to see thousands of girls unite on the 9th March at the Biggest Ever Football Sessions across the country.”
To find out more about the campaign, how to sign up to the Biggest Ever Football Session 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. To join the movement via social media, follow Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #LetGirlsPlay.