Unite Pilot Programme
In June 2021, Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA launched a new FA Programme named, Unite.
The pilot programme was delivered by 12 organisations who’s aims were to engage teenage girls into football. The programme focuses specifically on recreational football, a format of football aimed at the non-competitive side of the game, hoping to attract girls who may never have been involved in football before or ones who may be returning to the game. The programme is specifically designed to give autonomy, choice and voice to the girls who were involved in the sessions.
Molly Johnson, Youth Development Officer at SHCFA said, “ The Unite programme has given more girls the opportunity to play football by bridging the gap between Weetabix Wildcats (5-11) and Just play (16+) for girls who do not want to go down the traditional route of joining a team. The feedback has been very positive from those that delivered the pilot, and we have seen the benefits through the growth of girls’ football. I am extremely excited for the programme to re-start and open the programme up to other clubs/schools and organisations”
Steven Gates, Barnsley & District Schoolgirl Partnership said, “Barnsley & District FA Schoolgirl Partnership wanted to offer a non-competitive experience to schoolgirls in Barnsley free from girl’s football club pressures and club organisation and commitments, so that girls could first enjoy football and then think about joining a club afterwards. Throughout the programme we engaged with around 14 girls in total, 2 of which joined a club afterward. The programme allowed us to offer a wider engagement, increased interest, and an extra pathway for girls to exit from Weetabix Wildcats.”
Michael Carl from Charnock Ridgeway said “The Club has grown over the last 5 years and we now offer two Wildcats sessions, Women’s Just Play and a Women’s Over 45s session every week. We also have 12 teams within the SHWGL, offering a full pathway for girls. We receive plenty of interest in our 5-11yr olds Wildcats programmes but have normally struggled to reach out to players between the ages of 12-14. The Unite sessions gave us another platform to reach further and engage with new players. The funding also meant that money was not a barrier to those interested in giving the sessions a try. One of the player’s parents summed up her daughters experience perfectly on a recent tweet”
Kirsty Johnson , SGP Graves “We decided to run the Unite sessions to give more girls a safe place to go where they could, have fun, learn skills and form new friendships. The programme is great pathway from Weetabix wildcats for girls when they reach 11, it’s a chance for them to continue playing recreational football if they are not ready to join a team.”
Liam Kay, Dinnington High School said, Dinnington has struggled with girls’ football over the years to engage students this project was a good way to get girls football up and running in Dinnington. We had a core of 20 girls attending and since coming back to school in September this has grown with more girls attending training and wanting to volunteer at the Dinnington wildcat sessions. The sessions that were given from the FA were very good and the support and training was excellent. I would recommend this to any club or school to get girls into football.
John Field at Hepworth United stated, “Our Club applied to for the Unite Programme to engage female players at an age group where the club had previously not had great success in recruiting. It was an opportunity to create a natural progression for Wildcats attendees to continue the pathway at the club. The programme has also enabled the club to start a new U12 girls’ team for this season, to bridge the gap from Wildcats. The programme has been a huge success for the club and has strengthened our aim to complete our female pathway.”
Other clubs and organsations that delivered the programme successfully increasing girls football participation included, West End Terriers FC, Crosspool Juniors Football Club, SGP Thorncliffe, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, Reds in the community, Wath Academy and Adwick Warriors JFC.
DOES YOUR CLUB OR ORGANISATION WISH TO BE A UNITE PROVIDER?
We’re already planning for the programme to be relaunched and we want to hear from organisations who would like to deliver the programme. To find out more about the programme or to express your interest, please complete the form below.
Express your intrest
For more info contact Molly.Johnson@sheffieldfa.com