English Football Association have launched a new women’s football strategy branded ‘Inspiring Positive Change, which pledges to create a sustainable future for the sport by 2024.
The FA will work alongside national partners, specialist community groups, advisory groups to identify potential future female leaders and provide them with development and support, with the strategy also set to be embedded in schools as part of PE and after-school curriculum.
It is expected that 90 per cent of schools in England across primary and secondary tiers will become involved in the FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships network and out of school, girls will be provided with a Wildcats programme within easy travelling distance of their home.
England Lionesses captain, Steph Houghton spoke of the fact that “opportunities to play the game were few and far between” when she and her fellow teammates were children and welcomes this new strategy as a plan that is “truly game-changing..”
A club player pathway which aims to be inclusive and accessible will also be formed as part of efforts to produce more homegrown world-class players like Lucy Bronze and Nikita Parris, of which Bronze has recently returned to Manchester City after spending three seasons at Lyon.
As part of the pathway, clubs will support not just recruitment, development and transition of players but more detailed aspects from tactical to psychology to dual-career opportunities plus physiology and technical performance too.
This strategy of attracting and developing quality players comes as England prepares to host the now delayed Women’s Euro in 2022 before heading to Australia and New Zealand for 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The FA also are looking to utilise this new strategy in maximising and engaging audiences whilst growing the commercial revenue of the sport, as part of ambitions to establish England as home of the world’s best professional women’s leagues and competitions.
England Director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell spoke of the importance of this strategy understanding the motivation behind women playing football, saying; “Our new four-year strategy is based on understanding an individual’s motivation to play – for learning, for recreation, for competition and for excellence.
“We want to ensure there is access and opportunity for every girl and woman to play, coach, spectate, officiate, manage or administer if they so wish and the game to be truly representative of our society across all characteristics and social backgrounds.”
‘eight transformation objectives…’
Inspiring Positive Change strategy has eight transformation objectives which have a target achievement year of 2024 covering aspects from participation to coaching to refereeing, which can be found in full below.
- Early participation – Every primary school aged girl is expected to have equal access to football in schools and clubs
- Development participation – Equal participation access for fun, competitions and excellence.
- Club Player Pathway – Collaborate with clubs to develop a high-performance and inclusive player-centred pathway which is effective.
- Elite domestic leagues and competitions – Create strong world-class women’s leagues and competitions.
- England – win a major tournament.
- Football For All – Recruit a range of motivated local leaders who organise football in their communities and provide support.
- Coaching – Support development of quality coaches at every level who are representative of English society.
- Refereeing – Provide every female referee with high-quality learning and development opportunities from grassroots up to elite level.
Campbell hopes that this strategy “… will help provide opportunities for women and girls of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to fall in love with football and enjoy the many benefits that it can bring to their life.”
These objectives will help to boost learning opportunities from youngsters learning to play to coaches looking to improve their management skills to referees looking to become stronger.
FA also plans to ensure that ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ will be embedded into not just communities and clubs but education settings from primary to Higher and Further Education settings, extending the reach from not just primary and secondary schools but colleges too.