Girls’ football growing in Sheffield & Hallamshire region with formation of 15 new teams
Ten junior football clubs in the Sheffield and Hallamshire region netted a funding boost of £1,000 to help launch new girls’ teams.
The funding came from the Women’s Euros Legacy New Team Grant, a joint initiative by Sport England and the Football Association in a push to get girls’ teams going following this year’s record-breaking Women’s EUROs.
Grassroots teams in our region have seen a significant increase in the number of girls signing up to play, thanks to the Lionesses’ historic victory. The Women’s Euros Legacy New Team Grant has enabled clubs in more deprived areas to cover essential costs such as kit and equipment, facility hire, referee fees, league entry and much more.
Laughton Junior Football Club, based in Rotherham, were one of the clubs to be awarded the grant. They now have 36 girls playing football and used the grant to buy a brand-new kit and training coats. The grant meant they have also been able to pay for a better winter training facility, ensuring their teams have a safe and encouraging environment to train and play.
Many of the clubs involved said how the grant helped take the financial pressure off the club in the current economic climate. Increasing costs of pitches, kit and training venues, along with and a fall in parents’ budgets means this funding has come at a crucial time, allowing clubs to focus on football rather than raising funds.
Paul Gorner, club secretary for Junior Tykes FC in Barnsley said: “The grant has gone a long way to getting our new under-11s girls’ team off the ground and it's something we don't need to stress about regarding trying to find money to buy kits and other equipment.”
Some clubs, like Aston Swallownest Junior Football Club, have always promoted female participation. But the grant has meant they have been able to increase the number of football opportunities they provide to girls with the launch of two new teams.
For Maltby Main Junior FC, they have been overwhelmed with the rising number of girls looking to join the club. Club secretary, Richard Mann said: “We honestly did not believe the reaction from the girls. We thought that, with neighbouring teams having already established girls’ teams, we would struggle to find enough girls wanting to play. But the response has been amazing. The funding made the start-up of the team so much quicker than us trying to fundraise in our little village.”
A big focus of the Women’s Euros Legacy New Team Grant was to create a sustainable future for women and girls’ football. The county FA has an ambition to increase the number of female registered players from 4,500 to 10,000 by 2024.
But we can’t do it without the support of clubs like Doncaster-based Adwick Warriors JFC who used some of their £1,000 grant to support the development of their female coaches, particularly safeguarding and first aid training.
This funding is just one way our region is growing the girls’ game. This season, a new all-girls’ league was launched in Doncaster in response to the increased interest in the women’s game. The Sheffield & Hallamshire Women & Girls League also saw an increase of 350 new players and 25 new teams enter the league. Next season, the league has plans to start a new u7s division, the first time that girls have been able to play in formatted football from such an early age.
Molly Johnson, Youth Football Development Officer at the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA, agrees that the future of girls’ football looks bright.
She said: “It is fantastic to see the impact that this funding is having locally, providing girls with equal access to playing football at their local clubs.”