Increasing female participation in football is the focus as Argyle Community Trust marks International Women’s Day. To celebrate the occasion and to support this year’s theme #BalanceforBetter, the Girls Football Academy players gathered to share their ideas to how sports clubs, government and schools can improve the number of females involved in the sport.
By age 14, girls are dropping out of sport 1.5x faster than boys and by age 17, 51% of girls who participated in sport have quit because they do not have a sense that they belong, and they don’t see a future in sport.
Following the postponement of the Girls’ away game against Chelsea, the squad discussed what they saw as barriers to playing football and what could be done to tackle them.
Practical barriers such as lack of time, lack of childcare if players were mothers, lack of money and lack of transport were raised. The team came up with recommendations such as having children’s classes running in tandem to the women’s session, subsidies for women’s sessions and partnerships with transport providers or even making the walk/run to the session as part of the training.
The personal barriers they thought of were more psychological in nature. They ranged from fear of being judged, worries about appearance and lack of social confidence to concerns about ability – whether health related or not – and whether justified or not. The main recommendation was to have more visible role models in sport and in advertising a wider variety of images to demonstrate who takes part.
Jaydee Seaman, 17 years old and Captain of the Girls Football Academy team said: “Participating in sport has many benefits, including teaching girls to be more confident and learn valuable leadership skills that help them later on in their lives whether it’s to work a career in sport or a different type of industry.”
The team did highlight how they thought female offering was improving and how they felt that many sports brands were bettering female profiling, especially with the This Girl Can campaign that seemed to profile real women and the reality of how they felt and how more female only sessions were now available for all ages.
Over the years the Trust has introduced more female provisions with the Wildcats team for primary school children, the Football Performance Academy for 16 – 18 year olds and the Argyle Ladies team and has recently added a female only disability session.
The women only football sessions for players with disabilities is based at the newly opened and developing Manadon Sports and Community Hub in Plymouth. Argyle Community Trust already offers a session for men who have a successful competitive team but say it’s been a long time coming to offer a women’s team.
To hear from some of the Plymouth Argyle Ladies team on their thoughts about playing football and encouraging more women into sport, visit: https://argylecommunitytrust.co.uk/meet-women-football/