Today is International Women’s Day and to celebrate the occasion we are looking at the work being done locally by Albion in the Community to encourage more girls to play football.
The club’s official charity now runs an array of football sessions aimed at local girls. In fact, AITC made increasing participation among girls one of its main objectives in the long-term strategy it launched back in 2017.
At the time research had shown just eight per cent of girls aged 13 to 15 were undertaking the recommended levels of physical activity – a fact which has a range of associated impacts on young people’s health.
As part of its efforts to reverse that trend, AITC has launched a number of new sessions aimed at increasing participation.
And the charity has certainly made an encouraging start. Over the last 12 months more than 1,000 girls have played football at one of AITC’s regular sessions as increased funding from the Premier League has helped the charity expand its girls-only delivery throughout Sussex.
For example, AITC runs two free weekly girls-only sessions in east Brighton as part of its Premier League Kicks programme, which provides free football to young people living in areas of deprivation; more than 200 girls took part in a Premier League Kicks session last year.
The charity runs a number of girls-only sessions as part of its Premier League Girls programme, with more than 500 players taking part in a session directly funded by that partnership.
AITC’s Premier League Girls includes sessions at a dozen different venues, including in Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Worthing, with a growing number of centres providing coaching to talented young players.
There are also girls-only after school clubs and soccer schools aimed at encouraging girls to enjoy football during the holidays.
Other AITC initiatives include girls-only school football tournaments, with the finals held at the club’s training ground, and school assemblies encouraging girls to take up the sport, delivered alongside free football taster sessions. There is also a number of Saturday morning clubs and a weekly football session aimed at women who are looking to either try football for the first time, or return to the game following a spell out.
The charity also became one of the first in the country to launch a session for women and girls with a disability, attended by upwards of 30 players each fortnight.
A growing number of female coaches now work across AITC’s sessions and the charity also works closely with Brighton & Hove Albion’s FA Women’s Super League squad, with players regularly attending sessions; Albion defender Laura Rafferty is also one of three official AITC ambassadors.
Hope Powell, the club’s first team manager, praised the work being done by AITC.
She said, “It is fantastic to see how much Albion in the Community is doing to not only encourage more girls to play football, but also to support those already playing with expert coaching and opportunities to progress within the game.”