Participation figures from The Football Association (FA) have today revealed that all levels of the women's game have experienced a growth in participation following the Women's World Cup.
The FA have also announced that they are on course to achieve targets set out in 2017 by The Gameplan for Growth strategy. The programme promised to double female participation in football by 2020 and as the strategy moves into its final year, it's future priorities will be outlined and announced next summer with a focus on giving girls equal access to football in schools and clubs.
The figures released today demonstrate that more than 2.6 million women in England are now playing football, including 850,000 more committed participants playing 11-a-side or small-sided football since this summer's World Cup.
There are also more opportunities than ever for girls under the age of 16 to get involved, as there are now 1,200 Wildcats centres across the country providing more than 30,000 girls with a chance to play.
The FA Girls' Football School Partnerships supported by Barclays that was recently established has been rolled out in over 6,500 English schools, and this week also saw the launch of The FA's Shooting Stars initiative alongside Disney, The Youth Sport Trust and The National Literacy trust. Shooting Stars aims to encourage 1,200 primary schools to help inspire young girls to learn the fundamentals of football and get active.
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"The growth we’ve experienced is proof of the ‘see it, play it’ mantra which is at the heart of our ethos to inspire participation across all age groups," said the FA's Head of Women's Development, Louise Gear.
"We’re fortunate to have a wonderful group of role models [in the Lionesses] performing at the highest level of the game, who inspire females of all ages to have the confidence to get out and give football a try; be it for fitness, competition or fun," she said.
Louise expressed that programmes for the younger generation such as Wildcats and Shooting Stars "point to an exciting future."
The FA are looking to learn from this summer as they shape their future strategy moving towards Tokyo 2020 and the UEFA Women's EURO 2021 on home soil.
"We’ll look to take advantage of these opportunities and others for sustainable growth," said Louise Gear.
The FA have linked the growth in participation to England's performance at this year's Women's World Cup after their semi-final fixture was watched by a domestic television audience of 11.7 million.
Following peak viewing figures in the World Cup, the women's game has seen record-breaking league crowds since the start of the season and Saturday’s highly-anticipated international fixture with Germany at Wembley Stadium has been sold out since the middle of October.News Now - Sport News