FA Girls’ Football Week has proved a resounding success with more than double the original target of players taking part.
Close to 40,000 girls aged between 5 and 16 will play football as part of this week’s event, with the initial target of 17,340 easily surpassed.
An additional 10,254 women will also take part in the week which is aimed at encouraging schools, clubs, community groups and other educational establishments to run female football sessions - making 49,783 total participants. This week, 342 primary schools and 106 secondary schools will have put on sessions for their pupils.
FA head of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell announced the figure on Wednesday [27 April] at a special event on New Palace Yard at the Houses of Parliament.
Schoolgirls from Saint Fidelis School in Bexley and Royal Park School in Sidcup took part in sessions led by FA Skills coaches, with MPs dropping in to watch.
Baroness Campbell said: “These numbers are great news for women’s football and show just how much appetite there is for girls to play the game.
“We’d like to thank all of the schools, groups, clubs, teachers and coaches who have taken the time to put on football sessions and give girls the opportunity to play.
"Hopefully these will all prove a big success and will encourage organisations to continue to provide football opportunities.
“We know the challenges that are faced with girls’ sports participation levels, particularly for teenage girls where drop-out rates can be high, but initiatives like this are a great way to address some of these issues.
“Girls need to be given the opportunity, facilities and confidence to play and we’re committed to providing these and increasing the number of girls who play football.”
This year there will be a second event in the autumn, following the success of last year’s FA Girls’ Football Week, to further drive female participation.
The weeks are being delivered in partnership with Independent Schools FA, English Schools FA, Association of Colleges Sport, British Universities and Colleges Sport, the Premier League and the Football League.
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The clubs and schools who have signed up to take part in FA Girls’ Football Week will receive free entry to FA WSL matches.
Tickets are limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Organisations can access free tickets by e-mailing the contact given for each club – full details can be found here.
In 2015 more than 16,000 people took part in the event, more than triple the original target. A second week of events will be held this year, between 10 and 16 October, and will aim at raising participation at higher and further education establishments.
Football is the largest female team sport in England with more than 2.89m players.
There are more than 5,900 women’s and girls’ teams playing affiliated club football.