Touchline Mums is a programme for mothers and guardians of youth players to play football, including those who would otherwise be waiting for their children at training. The sessions are inclusive, fun and welcoming with no fitness or football experience required to participate.
The programme aims to break down barriers to participation for the target audience, including childcare and time as sessions take place concurrently to youth sessions, lack of fitness with sessions designed and actively promoted to these individuals and lack of confidence with providing a supportive environment and encouraging team bonding.
Touchline Mums sessions are running in Milton Keynes and activities can be adapted to the needs of participants with opportunities to develop skills and fitness slowly over the weeks. The intended impact of the programme is underpinned by three fundamental elements:
Physical: Increase physical fitness and health through football
Mental: Improve mental health through getting outside, active and providing a space to escape from everyday stresses of being a parent/guardian and general life in a no pressure environment.
Social: Meet and have fun with other mums/guardians in a safe space where they feel like they belong, with no judgement where the main aim is to get active and have fun.
Personal Development: Offer opportunities to lead sessions, develop coaching/refereeing skills, if desired
Development of the Game: Extending participation in the game, overcoming barriers, increasing visibility of the women’s game and creating new leaders and volunteers.
Ashleigh, a participant of the Milton Keynes Touchline Mums sessions, found that her confidence improved over the first 10 weeks of taking part. From the mid-way point, she did not miss a session and found her fitness levels increasing. Ashleigh described her only exercise previous was ‘chasing after her children’ and lacked confidence to participate in structured exercise and new situations could trigger her anxiety.
After participating in her first block of Touchline Mums, Ashleigh joined the over 30s team in the 6-v-6 recreational summer league and played 3 matches competitively. Furthermore, she attended the over 30s women’s festival and thrived in a side with new teammates, with the team placing second in the competition!
Ashleigh said: “Joining Touchline Mums has been massive for me as social events and new situations can trigger my anxiety. Ellie (Women’s Participation Officer for MK Dons Sports and Education Trust) has really made me feel at ease and I’ve been able to fall back in love with the game again.
“My fitness levels improved each week and I’m enjoying some ‘me’ time. It’s making me think about picking up my boots properly again and getting back on the pitch competitively. I also now feel more confident trying new social situations.”