It’s Girls’ Football Week
A couple of weeks ago we were invited to Wembley by the FA to learn all about Girls’ Football Week. Our two eldest were so excited and I’m gutted to report that on the actual day of the event I’d been up all night with sickness and was far too unwell to drive the 4 hour drive down to Wembley never mind the journey back again. One of those moments were you’re actually devastated as it felt like such a once in a lifetime moment and the girls would’ve remembered it forever. However, bless them, without complaining off they went to school instead.
Determined to make sure that the girls still got to try football as this opportunity had shown me how much they were looking forward to it, I was straight on to the FA’s website to find somewhere local that the girls could play. The first thing that I noticed, there are so many local football teams. Being a Mum of predominantly girls, and not having the desire to watch football after moving out from a football crazed family home, I had become a bit delusional in my mind to just how much football infiltrates our society. It is definitely our nations pastime and there are literally hundreds of opportunities within half an hours drive for anyone of all ages to get involved.
I managed to find an all female team for both of them to be involved in for their first attempt, both within 10 minutes drive. At Isis’ age (10) it can be a bit more difficult as a lot of teams by this age can be well established. They allow for mixed teams (where boys and girls play together), but at this age for a girl to play in a mixed team they tend to be a girl that can dribble the ball like she has glue stuck to the side of her boot. I found it a little bit more difficult to find a suitable beginners team for Isis to join but by a little bit more difficult, I mean that involved maybe a couple more phone calls. The community is great and tight knit. The gentleman who runs the team that Shayla was trying out for knew of a contact for me to try for Isis.
On Thursday evening after school, Isis was excited to go and see what all the fuss was about. Having kicked the ball around a bit at school, she was interested in football but wasn’t sure how much she would enjoy it unless she had a proper go. This is why I am so thrilled about Girls’ Football Week it is so good to raise awareness and remind us that girls can play too. We set off early so that we could go via Sports Direct to pick her up some supplies. The basics for a first week would be comfortable clothing, trainers, shin pads and a bottle of water. Having already expressed an interest we decided to kit Isis out properly. A gamble I know as she may have hated it, but I sensed her excitement and went for it. New football shorts, shirt, socks, astro boots, shin pads and a water bottle. She was all kitted out.
We arrived at a local high school’s astro pitch and I introduced her to man in charge. He had a girl in her late teens helping out, she ran the warm ups for the girls. Having been a dance pupil of three disciplines for many years I was shocked how much of it transferred. Before Isis started dancing she had two left feet. The co-ordination involved in dance seemed to apply to all the football warm ups. The way she was able to balance, follow instruction, fitness levels, it all seemed so similar. If you have a girl who isn’t interested in dance at all but would want to play football, I can imagine that the skills learned from football would transfer if they ever wanted to dance in the future. Being able to utilise your body and control a football is such a skill. It requires power, balance and grace. How are they not female qualities? Women are so often overlooked when it comes to football (I hold my hand up and say I played into that belief myself), and yet there are currently more than 5,900 women’s and girls’ teams playing affiliated club football.
Isis had an amazing time. She was thrilled, she made some friends, she slotted in like she’d been playing a while. I was actually really shocked at how well she did, that sounds terrible doesn’t it? but I knew that she would either love it or hate it. She LOVED it. We will be going every week, and as a family with four children that can no longer afford for everyone to do 3 disciplines of dance I am thrilled to find something that breeds so many of the same principles. Team work, skill, balance, poise, athleticism, fresh air and exercise….what more could I want for such a small amount of finance, £2.50 a week.
Girls’ Football Week is a fabulous initiative that was started last year to raise awareness that girls can play too. I’m so pleased that they did. Had this not prompted me we may never have decided to give it a go…. and who knows? Maybe Isis, Shayla-Rae or Eden could be the next Kelly Smith and get to play football for England one day. If you want to find out more head to http://www.thefa.com/girlsfootballweek to support this initiative. There are so many ways to get involved, head to http://www.thefa.com/play-football to find a local club for you.
This will definitely be an ongoing part of our lives for the foreseeable future. The girls will just be training now until season starts, but Nanny and Grandad are already excited to come and watch their first game. So, what are you waiting for? Find out where your littles can play, or where you can, and if you try this week make sure to tag the FA in your photos by joining in the hashtag #WeCanPlay
Football is definitely not just for boys and I’m so grateful to Girls’ Football Week for opening up my eyes and expanding my girls opportunities.
*We were asked to write about Girls’ Football Week in exchange for a visit and tour of Wembley as guests of the FA, however, we were unable to attend and so posted this because we think it’s an amazing initiative and our girls will be football lovers for years to come.