Opportunity key for Sampson during Girls' Football Week

Tuesday 26 Apr 2016
Mark Sampson has won 23 of his 36 matches as England Women's head coach

When Mark Sampson discusses FA Girls’ Football Week, he uses one word more often than any other: ‘opportunity’.

The England Women’s head coach is fully behind the initiative which is focused on encouraging primary and secondary schools to put on football sessions for girls.

Clubs, community groups, wider educational establishments and other organisations are also being invited to run female-specific sessions between Monday 25 April and Sunday 1 May.

Girls' Football Week

Mon 25 Apr - Sun 1 May 2016
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And Sampson, who led the Lionesses to third place at last year’s World Cup in Canada, believes the best thing about next week is that it “opens the door” to any female player that wants to get involved.

He said: “What we always want to do within women’s football is to get more players and make those players better.

“But the big challenge has always been opportunity.

“The support we had last summer made us realise that there were tons of girls out there who would love to start playing the game. We’ve just got to open the door for them.

England Women

Mark Sampson has led England Women to fourth in the world rankings

“Girls’ Football Week will give every girl the opportunity to have a game of football, in whatever format they want, even if it is just messing about with their mates.

“The knock-on effect of initiatives like this just means that women’s and girls’ football keeps growing, and hopefully we get to the point where every young girl in the UK, if they want to, gets an opportunity to play football.”

As well as potentially acting as an introduction to the beautiful game, Girls’ Football Week could also serve to increase the number of players, coaches and referees involved long-term, which Sampson realises will be hugely beneficial.

He added: “For every 11 girls that play, there’s got to be somebody to coach that team, so that will mean more coaches.

“For every 22 girls that play, there’s got to be a referee so that means there will be more referees.

“From a selfish point of view, at the elite level, the more girls that get the opportunity to play, the more girls we are going to have to pick from, the bigger the talent pool is going to be.

“But most importantly there will be more girls involved in the game.

“We need to remember that Girls’ Football Week could be the first time a Lioness of the future kicks a ball, so it could be a massive week for the future of women’s football in England.”

The FA is offering free-to-use resources to participating schools and institutions, which include session guides and promotional materials. This can be accessed by registering the session at www.fagirlsfootballweek.com.

By Glenn Lavery