Girls take the lead in Schools Football Week in time for International Women’s Day

The English Schools’ FA (ESFA) has seen schools’ football for girls grow year on year since the inception of their girls’ National Cup competitions in 1996 and the 21/22 season has taken numbers to new heights.

The Association, which is also the Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England, welcomed 1,670 girls’ team entries into competitions for the current season, equating to around 30,000 girls having the opportunity to represent their school, district or county on the pitch in one of the 13 available competitions.

The ESFA’s Schools’ Football Week campaign, in association with Haier, the number one Global Major Appliance brand, returned on February 7-13, 2022, and the Association took the opportunity to champion Girls’ Football as a key part of the campaign, perfectly timed in the wake of International Women’s Day, which will be celebrated on March 8, 2022. As a result of this approach, the ESFA has seen:

• Over 500 schools promote girls’ football during Schools’ Football Week

• Over 57,000 girls have been given the opportunity to take part in football activity within their school

• Over 200 schools have offered girls’ football tournaments

• Over 300 schools are keen to begin running regular activity for their female players

If all 300 schools do begin to run regular girls’ activity, this could introduce around 3,000 girls into the game through their school.

The Schools’ Football Week campaign has escalated to new heights in 2022, with more schools and pupils than ever before engaging with the initiative.
Schools’ Football Week 2022 saw:

• 815 schools register activity (increase of 324 from 2021)

• 10,022 teams benefit from activity (increase of 1,595 from 2021)

• 142,881 pupils benefit from schools’ football (increase of 37,287 from 2021)

The ESFA kicked off the Schools’ Football Week celebrations on February 7 by streaming draws for 30 National Schools’ Cup competitions on it’s YouTube channel, ESFA TV. The draws included 7 Girls’ competitions and were made by two of West Bromwich Albion’s Women’s First Team players, Maz Mahmood and Izzy Green. The broadcast had over 10,000 views, over 5,000 of which were live on the night with over 300 accounts tuning into watch the U14 PlayStation Schools’ Cup for Girls’ draw taking place.

On February 8, the ESFA hosted the Deaf Schools’ Football Finals in Derby, seeing over 100 pupils from across England travel to take part in the tournament, including a competition specifically for girls’ teams. The Royal School for the Deaf, Derby (RSDD) took home the girls’ cup on the day, after the squad scored 24 goals and conceded just two on the day.

Louise White, teacher from RSDD, said: “By talking about the Deaf Schools’ Finals during Schools’ Football Week, it may encourage other Deaf Schools, or schools with Hearing Impaired Units to take part in future years!”

The ESFA spoke to Summer, RSDD’s goalkeeper after the tournament had finished and she said: “I enjoy playing with them [my school friends] in the matches and winning. We won today without losing any games! I have enjoyed getting tips from my team-mates, I feel really proud and have enjoyed today.”

Schools’ Football Week has been a resounding success for the English Schools’ FA in 2022 and the focus on girls’ football has been a fantastic way to continue to promote the work the English Schools’ FA does in promoting girls’ football to all schools.

Antony Peart, Director of Brand and Communications UK and ROI at Haier, said: “It’s been an incredible week of sports. We are delighted that so many schools across the nation took part in Schools’ Football Week. A huge congratulations to Heathlands School, Mary Hare School and the Royal School For Deaf Derby, who took trophies home. On behalf of Haier we would also like to thank all schools who took part in Schools Football Week.”

Mark Hignett, ESFA Chairman 21/22, said: “Schools’ Football Week 2022, in association with Haier, has been an incredible success for the English Schools’ FA. It has been a privilege to see the amount of schools’ football activity that has taken place between the 7th – 13th February as part of our campaign. I have been particularly delighted to see the uptake in girls’ football as a direct result of this initiative. The ESFA is proud to have promoted girls’ football for well over 20 years, as part of its National Cup competitions and later, as part of the U15 England Schoolgirls’ international programme. It has been wonderful to see the numbers of participation grow year on year, but to see the level of excitement for girls’ football as part of the SFW programme has been so encouraging for us, as the Governing Body for Schools’ Football. We will continue to support the participation and development of girls’ football and are delighted to have been able to create this focus for girls’ football throughout Schools’ Football Week 2022”

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