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Accessibility for young girls in football

Following the masses of success that England’s lionesses achieved last summer in the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 after the host nation won the tournament to claim the country’s first EURO title, it has sparked increased development in women’s football across the country.

The UK Government launched a review in September where domestic women’s football will be analysed from the elite first tier, down at a grassroots level. Women’s football currently consists of ten tiers with the lower divisions splitting into localised, regional leagues. At a grassroots level, it encourages for young girls to start playing football for a local club to help develop their skills at an early age. There is strong encouragement also from people involved in the game that women’s football can branch out further in locations and all-round improvements.

This follows the recent comments Chelsea Women’s manager, Emma Hayes made about the opportunities for young girls after calling the sport “middle class”. Hayes had encouraged for more to be done from an early age, citing that opportunities aren’t equal at an educational level. That lack of involvement at an early age contributes to what is seen at even an elite level. Having diverse visibility and being relatable is important for the sport as it would offer a fair reflection that women’s football can be anyone, and with the right support and motivation, young girls can embrace something they enjoy.

In the Lionesses current squad, there are only three people of colour in the team, which harshly fails to reflect the culture of the country and is in completely different contrasts the men’s team. Lauren James, Ebony Salmon and Jess Carter are the singled-out names when it comes to diversity.

This issue has been noticedby people involved in the game. England Women’s manager, Sarina Wiegman and Lioness, Ella Toone both stating that they would love to see more diversity in the game, whilst Sky Sports have pledged a £30 million pound commitment to making a difference across local communities in the UK.

It’s important that future, ambitious, young football players have someone they can relate too, in appearance and background so that they can admire and attempt to emulate their successes. Of course, demographic’s play a huge part in the future as certain areas may represent different cultures and opportunities and it’s integral to note that the scouting system for women’s football is still in the early days, with a lack of people searching for hidden, nurtured talent.

The Football Association is attempting to take leaps of evolution in the sport by confirming the first 60 girl’s Emerging Talent Centre, which will see young female players involved in FA programmes rise to over 4,000 by the end of the 2023-24 season.

It’s important to note that the sport is still developing and major issues like accessibility and diversity are starting to be tackled. The hope would be in the next coming years, that we see a major upheaval with everything associated with women’s football.

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