Sport England has awarded £1m of National Lottery funding to England’s hosting of the UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2022 (WEURO2022) with a view to increasing the number of adult women playing football in England.
In keeping with Sport England’s continued commitment to women’s and girls’ sport, the investment will support the development of local plans within the proposed EURO 22 host cities which include Brighton & Hove and also feature London, Trafford, Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham, Milton Keynes, Wigan & Leigh and Southampton.
Eight Host City Legacy Groups have been established with key partners from Football, Local Authorities, Active Partnerships, Education, Public Health and Culture coming together to work towards a common EURO 2022 Legacy Plan.
These groups will be awarded approximately £100,000 to create a recreational women’s football offer in each of the nine host cities – currently being reconfirmed to deliver the tournament - so that when EURO 22 arrives the right opportunities and structures are in place to capitalise on anticipated interest.
The offer will include female activation in the regions to support new playing opportunities, with this being led by female ‘Playmakers’ following The FA’s new entry level course aimed at getting more volunteers into grassroots football in a safe and welcoming way.
The investment will also pilot a new programme in each of the host cities to explore whether parents and carers attending The FA’s Wildcats sessions, aimed at girls aged 5-11, have a desire to take part in adult sessions that would run simultaneously alongside the Wildcats sessions.
Sport England’s EURO 2022 project aims to capitalise on the proven impact of major events on grassroots interest in the game, with research undertaken during and after the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 revealing significant rises in women playing following the tournament.
In the younger age brackets, 31.0% of girls aged 12–15 were regularly playing football after the 2019 Women’s World Cup compared to 26.0% before, with the pattern continuing in the 16 – 24 age bracket (35.0% after WWC compared to 27.8% prior) and the 25 – 34 age bracket (31.3% to 26.5%). Overall, 460,000 more women aged 25+ were playing football after the World Cup than before, the biggest increase of any age group.
The UEFA Women’s EURO was initially due to be played in summer 2021, however following the Covid-19 pandemic the tournament was rescheduled and will now take place from 6-31 July 2022.