England's Lionesses can play... and so can you

Tuesday 30 Jun 2015
England duo Laura Bassett (left) and Jade Moore celebrate in Vancouver

With England’s Lionesses set for their historic FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final against Japan on Wednesday, The FA is calling for girls around the country to celebrate the success by playing the nation’s favourite game themselves.

On the eve of England Women’s opening World Cup group match against France, The FA launched ‘We Can Play’ – a campaign to shatter lingering preconceptions about women’s and girls’ football, and boost participation.

‘We Can Play’ has subsequently gained significant momentum and thousands of girls have showcased their love for the sport, but The FA is now calling for even more girls to enjoy a kick-about.


'We Can Play': Inspiring girls to play football

Despite its status as the largest team sport for girls and women in the country, peer-to-peer pressures, gender stereotyping and even the derogatory results of internet searches all contribute to a perpetuation of a negatively distorted image of the women’s game – which research has revealed is holding back greater participation in football.

With the England Women’s team, and women’s football in general, enjoying unprecedented exposure, The FA is hoping the next generation of young Lionesses will be inspired to take up the game for themselves.

It is also calling for parents to provide greater support for their daughters playing football. Recent research from The FA has shown that just one in five dads want their daughters to play football.

The aim of ‘We Can Play’ is to not only increase participation but also increase girls’ confidence that football is a sport for them and showcase positive role models like Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Karen Carney, Katie Chapman, Fran Kirby and Jodie Taylor, or any of the Lionesses currently starring in Canada.


England players celebrate their historic World Cup win over Canada

Alarmingly, unlike tennis and netball, just over half the girls surveyed felt football was a game for them. Even among young girls that did want to play football, one in four didn’t follow this interest up because they did not have any family or peer support.

Of the sports dads would encourage a daughter aged 7-11 to play, football came seventh - with 19%. Top of the list of sports fathers would encourage their girls to take part in were swimming (59%), athletics (44%) and gymnastics (41%).

The FA’s research also highlighted a number of reasons why dads believe football to be an unsuitable sport for girls. Top of the list was a belief that other sports are better suited to their daughters (25%), dads thinking that girls would prefer to play other sports (24%) and football being a man’s game (22%).

Kelly Simmons, The FA’s director of national game and women’s football, said: “It feels like the nation has fallen in love with the Lionesses.

"Everyone is really proud of the England Women's team, awareness levels have never been higher surrounding the quality of women's football and all the work that has gone into helping them get where they are now – which is competing at the very top.

England celebrate

Have Steph Houghton, Karen Carney and Co. inspired you to play?

“There is always more to do, but the women’s game is now strong enough to stand on its own two feet.

“We are doing our part to ensure the game is an attractive mass participation sport for girls and women and now it is the turn of society to ask itself, why does it allow antiquated attitudes to persist?

“Let’s have an open and honest discussion – by doing so there is only one outcome – to shatter these myths once and for all.

“Increasing girls’ confidence that football is a sport for them and showcasing positive role models - many of whom will be appearing in our screens when England take on Japan – are crucial.

"‘We Can Play’ will form a key part of the drive to increase participation at a young age.

“The FA hopes this not only encourages more girls to believe football is something for them to enjoy but ultimately that it will create the next generation of Lionesses to represent England at future Women’s World Cup tournaments."

More information on ‘We Can Play’ can be found by visiting TheFA.com/WeCanPlay

By FA Staff