While the 10-year-old Katie Parker, has set her ambitions to play football for England, the message becomes loud and clear – the girls are showing immense interest to try their luck in football, which is getting popular with every passing day in UK. Katie, who hails from Groby, has been part of Leicester City’s girls centre of excellence since under-nine level. This is her third season. She became the fastest under-11 girl athlete in the US in 2014, setting a benchmark in 1,500m. Katie Parker believes that she can play football for England as well as get a chance to run in the Olympics in future.
Parker’s case is not the lone exception. England’s leading woman player Jordan Nobbs (21), who is also the daughter of UK’s football legend Keith Nobbs, has launched a new initiative to motivate more girls and women to take up football. The Female Football Development Programme (FFDP) will aim at getting 360 young girls in the age group of 14-25 to play football. A £13,000 grant has been estimated to achieve that figure.
The Hartlepool United’s Community Sports Foundation (HUCSF) Charity has been given the money to undertake the programme. Last year, the initiative launched by various clubs saw 180 young women take up football. This time, the target has been doubled to 360 with the hopes that more from the fairer sex would be interested to use school football kits. The drive won’t be limited to schools or colleges only. Young girls and women from all sections of the society would be encouraged to take up football.
Jordan, who also plays for Arsenal, revealed that she wanted to be part of this noble initiative, as she did not have that opportunity when she was growing up. She admits that it’s definitely brilliant to see many young girls and women taking part in the programme and choosing Football as their sports career. According to her, she was sent to soccer schools by her dad, but those places were dominated by the boys, which never made her comfortable. “When you play with a large number young girls, you get a chance to showcase your strength and prowess and move ahead in your career. It gives a tremendous boost to your career and you never feel neglected,” she said.
Many schools in the UK have introduced two age groups for girls’ football. They are split into 11-14 and 14-16. The response is equally good in both sections, it is believed. A recent blog post, “Women’s Football in the UK” published on Toga Sports website, quoted FIFA to reveal that there are over 29 million women and girls playing football across the globe, and in the UK 253,000 women play the sport every month. This is an interesting trend, which will take the women’s football to new heights in the UK.