Hope Powell gave her backing of a plan to improve the standard of female footballers in London.
A plan to improve the lot of female footballers of all ages in London was given the backing of England Head Coach Hope Powell at Highbury yesterday.
The Greater London Women’s Football Strategy includes a raft of ideas ranging from developing schools, college and disability leagues to making sure changing rooms offer women’s showers and toilets.
The Greater London Football Partnership hope the four-year plan will give coaches, schools and football officials a guide to follow as they develop the beautiful game in the Capital.
And at a conference to launch consultation on a draft of the strategy at Arsenal FC on Monday, Powell said it could give women’s football a real boost.
"When I started this sort of thing didn’t happen," said Powell, who grew up playing football in London. "It’s progressing the game and people working in the game and gives them aspirations to drive the game forward."
The strategy aims to improve standards in school and club football, player development, facilities, leagues and competitions, and coaching.
"It’s about doing things now that are long lasting and will be here in years to come," GLFP chairman Alex Welsh told more than 200 delegates - including England captain Faye White and Charlton keeper Pauline Cope - at Highbury.
Cope, the former England No 1, is one of a 20-strong group of club, County FA and football organisation representatives to have worked on the draft plan over the last 18 months.
It looks at co-ordinating and developing the game, increasing the number of women and girls playing, volunteering and coaching and allowing talented players and coaches to progress.
"It’s going to be used to unite the game so we make maximum use of the resources available," said Mr Welsh. "What we want to do is give people at grass roots a voice, they are just as important as people playing at the highest level."
That grass roots level has boomed in recent years, Kelly Simmons, The FA’s National Head of Football Development, told delegates.
She said The FA’s £8 million Active Sports programme, which provides every county with a women’s football development officer and links clubs and schools, had played a part.
"We are now the number one female participation sport and we are growing 30 to 40 per cent year on year," she added.
It is a pattern reflected in London, Josie Clifford, London County FA football development officer, told delegates how London clubs had risen from two in 1969 to hundreds in a variety of county, regional and academy leagues today.
And the GLFP hope the strategy will maintain interest past school age and help talented players and coaches develop.
"We’ve got a real task to try and sustain that participation and extend it so there is an opportunity to develop their potential," added Mr Welsh. "So we want a strategy that’s relevant, realistic, appropriate and can be implemented in order to improve girl’s and women’s football in London."
• The draft plan is available for comment on www.londonactivepartnership.org until February 21 and will be published in April.