Skip to content

Multi-million investment to engage girls with football

The Squad Girls' Football funding announcement comes as the Women's Euros are seeing record crowds up and down the country.

18th July 2022

We’re investing £2 million of National Lottery funding into grassroots girls’ football as part of a new programme set to be launched by The Football Association (The FA) later this summer.

The Squad Girls’ Football programme will be aimed at getting more 12-14-year-olds into the game and links into our own work to tackle inequalities around gender activity habits.

Our latest Active Lives Children and Young People report shows that girls are less likely than boys to complete the suggested 60 minutes of physical activity a day outlined by the Chief Medical Officer.

A group of teenage girls gather in a huddle at an indoor football session

The research shows that barriers to participation include 51% of girls saying they’re shy or self-conscious, while 46% lack confidence in their own ability.

This new programme aims to combat this by training coaches to ensure every girl has a voice and choice during the session, to guarantee their preferences and needs are catered for – a move welcomed by our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth.

"This is a hugely exciting and unique project, and one we’re delighted to be partnering with The FA on with a view to engaging more teenage girls with football," he said.

"The on-going noise and excitement around the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 is brilliant to see – our continued ambition is to now ensure all women and girls have the right opportunities to play for themselves.

"The upcoming launch of Squad Girls’ Football will play a pivotal role on this front, and by putting teenage girls at the heart of its session planning, we want to empower girls to get active in ways they will love and keep coming back to."

The funding announcement comes with England’s Lionesses having eased into the quarter-finals of the Women’s Euros and the tournament as a whole already having eclipsed the total attendance figure for any previous edition – before the group stage had even concluded.

Squad Girls’ Football’s launch will add to the existing participation programmes currently offered as part of The FA’s 2020-24 Inspiring Positive Change strategy and equal access ambition.

And the programme, which will be delivered by adult’s who’ve undertaken England Football’s EE Playmaker course or are already a qualified Level 1-3 coach, will aim to encourage girls to take part in more physical activity, increase their confidence and make them aware of other programmes available to them.

"By putting teenage girls at the heart of its session planning, we want to empower girls to get active in ways they will love and keep coming back to."

Tim Hollingsworth

Chief executive, Sport England

Both we and The FA believe it can help create a more sustainable model for female football participation, support the identification and recruitment of the next generation of women’s players and allow us to understand how we can further support and improve player experiences.

And Louise Gear, head of development at The FA, hopes Squad Girls’ Football will help to give girls’ the best possible football experience and prevent further drop-offs in physical activity that are commonly seen within this age group.

"We’re delighted to have the investment and backing from Sport England on our Squad Girls’ Football programme which we be launching this summer," she said.

"Developing healthy habits and helping girls become confident young leaders and contributors to wider society is a key goal for us and programmes such as this wouldn’t be possible without the continued support from organisations such as Sport England.

"We’re looking forward to engaging the 12-14-year-old audience after an incredible summer for women’s and girls’ football and driving forward our equal access ambition."

The funding comes on the back of a £1m investment targeted at getting more adult women playing football in Euros host cities.

With Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston pleased to see further investment in supporting girls to get active.

"I am proud that we’re hosting a record-breaking Women’s Euros," he said. "We want to capitalise on that and do all we can to inspire the next generation to get into football, so I am delighted to support the Squad Girls’ Football Programme.

"This follows our plans to level up access to sport for all, with £230 million being spent to build or upgrade up to 8,000 grassroots football and multi-sport pitches across the UK by 2025."

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.