We’re aiming to make it easier for adult women to play football with a £1 million award of National Lottery funding to England’s hosting of the UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2022.
The investment will support the development of local plans within EURO 22’s eight host city legacy groups, which include a combination of key partners from football, local authorities, Active Partnerships, education, public health and culture.
These legacy groups are working towards a common EURO 2022 Legacy Plan and will each be awarded around £100,000 to create recreational women’s football opportunities in the nine proposed host cities.
Women’s ‘Playmakers’ will lead the new playing opportunities, following The FA’s new entry-level course aimed at getting more volunteers into grassroots football in a safe and welcoming way.
And it’s an approach endorsed by our executive director of sport, Phil Smith.
“EURO 22 will be a significant and exciting event, and we are delighted to be working with The FA to use it to grow the women’s game,” he said.
“We believe a ‘place-based approach’ – working with local stakeholders to develop a recreational football programme for the right place, at the right time – can be instrumental in making this happen and ultimately developing women’s and girls’ football in England.
“We know from data collected during the 2019 Women’s World Cup that there was a significant increase in the number of women playing football both during and after the tournament.
“For EURO 22, Sport England and The FA are trying to get ahead of the game. We know the tournament will excite the fans and the public, so we want to use that excitement to support even more women and girls to start playing.”
Proposed host cities
London, Trafford, Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham, Wigan and Leigh, Brighton and Hove, Southampton and Milton Keynes.
The investment will be used to ensure the right opportunities and structures are in place to capitalise on the anticipated interest the tournament will generate.
This increase in interest was proven around the 2019 Women’s World Cup, with participation in girls aged 12-15 increasing from 26% prior to the event, to 31% afterwards. And similar figures were seen across different age groups, with the 16-24 bracket increasing from 28% to 35%, 25-34-year-olds going from 27% to 31% and, in total, more than 460,000 more women aged 25+ were playing football after the World Cup, compared to before.
We know the tournament will excite the fans and the public, so we want to use that excitement to support even more women and girls to start playing
Executive director of sport, Sport England
The investment programme will also pilot a new programme in each of the proposed host cities - currently being reconfirmed to deliver the tournament - to see whether parents and carers attending The FA’s Wildcats sessions, for girls aged 5-11, have a desire to take part in adult sessions running simultaneously.
And The FA’s head of women’s football development, Louise Gear, hopes the tournament’s postponement from next year, to 2022, can at least have a positive in allowing time for the programme be fully implemented.
“UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 is set to be a record-breaking tournament, and one which offers us huge opportunity both to continue building the profile of women’s football and to inspire more women and girls to get involved in the game,” she said.
“As we approach two years to go until the showpiece final takes place at Wembley Stadium, we are delighted that Sport England has announced this significant investment.
“By supporting the development plans of each of our nine dedicated host cities, we hope that we can build on the energy and excitement that comes from a home EURO to turn these regions into hubs for increased activity and opportunity in the wake of the tournament.
“We look forward to working with Sport England and our eight Host City Legacy Groups to ensure that this investment translates into real playing opportunities for thousands of women, in turn driving participation in the game and benefitting local communities long after the tournament has concluded.”
UEFA Women's EURO 2022 will run from 6-31 July.