Sport England to help more women play football with £1m legacy investment into UEFA Women's EURO 2022

Sport England to help more women play football with £1m legacy investment into UEFA Women's EURO 2022

Wigan Borough has been awarded a share of £1m of National Lottery funding by Sport England to try increase the number of women playing football in the borough.

In keeping with Sport England’s continued commitment to women’s and girls’ sport, the investment will support the development of local plans of host cities for the UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2022 (WEURO2022) which include London, Trafford, Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham, Milton Keynes, Wigan & Leigh, Brighton & Hove and Southampton.

Eight Host City Legacy Groups have been established with key partners from Football, Local Authorities, Active Partnerships, Education, Public Health and Culture coming together to work towards a common EURO 2022 Legacy Plan. 

These groups will be awarded approximately £100,000 to create a recreational women’s football offer in each of the nine host cities – currently being reconfirmed to deliver the tournament - so that when EURO 22 arrives the right opportunities and structures are in place to capitalise on anticipated interest.

Leader of Wigan Council, Councillor David Molyneux said: “The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament will be a showpiece event for creating a long-lasting legacy that gets young girls becoming active and inspired by some of the world’s best female athletes.

“As one of nine host destinations, we are incredibly proud that Wigan Borough will be playing its part and the council wants to ensure that new teams and facilities are created and lots more girls are encouraged to take part.

“This investment from Sport England should go a long way in making sure these hopes become a reality within our borough and across the UK.”

The offer will include female activation in the regions to support new playing opportunities, with this being led by female ‘Playmakers’ following The FA’s new entry level course aimed at getting more volunteers into grassroots football in a safe and welcoming way.

The investment will also pilot a new programme in each of the host cities to explore whether parents and carers attending The FA’s Wildcats sessions, aimed at girls aged 5-11, have a desire to take part in adult sessions that would run simultaneously alongside the Wildcats sessions.

Sport England’s EURO 2022 project aims to capitalise on the proven impact of major events on grassroots interest in the game, with research undertaken during and after the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 revealing significant rises in women playing following the tournament.

In the younger age brackets, 31.0% of girls aged 12–15 were regularly playing football after the 2019 Women’s World Cup compared to 26.0% before, with the pattern continuing in the 16 – 24 age bracket (35.0% after WWC compared to 27.8% prior) and the 25 – 34 age bracket (31.3% to 26.5%). Overall, 460,000 more women aged 25+ were playing football after the World Cup than before, the biggest increase of any age group.

The UEFA Women’s EURO was initially due to be played in summer 2021, however following the COVID-19 pandemic the tournament was rescheduled and will now take place from 6-31 July 2022.

Phil Smith, Sport England Director of Sport, said: “EURO 22 will be a significant and exciting event, and we are delighted to be working with The FA to use it to grow the women’s game.  We believe a ‘place-based approach’ – working with local stakeholders to develop a recreational football programme for the right place, at the right time - can be instrumental in making this happen and ultimately developing women’s and girls’ football in England.

“We know from data collected during the 2019 Women’s World Cup that there was a significant increase in the number of women playing football both during and after the tournament.

“For EURO 22 Sport England and The FA are trying to get ahead of the game. We know the Tournament will excite the fans and the public, so we want to use that excitement to support even more women and girls to start playing.”

Louise Gear, The FA’s Head of Women’s Football Development, said: “UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 is set to be a record-breaking tournament, and one which offers us huge opportunity both to continue building the profile of women’s football and to inspire more women and girls to get involved in the game.

“As we approach two years to go until the showpiece final takes place at Wembley Stadium, we are delighted that Sport England has announced this significant investment. By supporting the development plans of each of our nine dedicated host cities, we hope that we can build on the energy and excitement that comes from a home EURO to turn these regions into hubs for increased activity and opportunity in the wake of the tournament."

Posted on Thursday 23rd July 2020
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