Lionesses inspire the next generation
The historic moment England defeated Germany in last month’s Euro final has changed women's football for future generations. Over 87,000 people packed into Wembley Stadium to witness the thrilling scenes as Chloe Kelly scored the winning goal during the second period of extra time. Ratings released by the BBC also revealed over 17.4 million watched the match on television, a record for a women’s football match in the UK.
The success has inspired more young girls than ever to get involved with their local clubs or sign up for Holiday Club football sessions this summer. According to the DevonLive website, organisers at Exeter City Community Trust, the partner charity of Exeter City Football Club, had numbers more than quadruple for this year.
Jamie Vittles, chief executive of Exeter City Community Trust, said: “Our holiday clubs are open to both girls and boys aged from five to 14 and we regularly have lots of girls attending. Over the years we have held girls’ only sessions, but this summer, thanks to the amazing success of the Lionesses, our bookings have increased significantly.
“We’re passionate about creating opportunities for everyone to play football and have created a female football pathway at Exeter City Community Trust, which starts from age five.”
Meanwhile in Birmingham Yasmin Nessa, project lead at Saltley Stallions Women’s FC, told the Guardian that her club has also seen a big increase in interest. “I’ve noticed that the numbers have just increased dramatically over the space of like two weeks,” she says. For Nessa, she hopes the legacy of the tournament will be to show that “women and girls can engage in football, to normalise that and change the standards around it completely, [to] change the conversation”.
The Football Association has set a number of targets to be reached by 2024:
- Having 7,000 more women and girls regularly playing for grassroots clubs.
- Having 120,000 more girls playing football across all settings.
- That 75 percent of schools should offer equal access to football for girls (currently 63 percent).
- The number of Wildcats providers, offering girls football for five to 11 year olds, should reach 3,000.
- The number of grassroots clubs offering a complete accredited pathway for girls should reach 1,000.
The Lionesses have penned an open letter calling on the government to "create real change" by ensuring all girls have the opportunity to play football at school. They have done their part, it’s now down to the governing bodies to ensure young girls across the country are given opportunities that match their ambitions.