This is Isla at her presentation evening recently with a trophy for Most Improved Player and 2nd Top Goal Scorer.
But back to Isla shortly...
We’ve learnt a lot in the last 4 weeks.
The amazing effort of the England Women’s team at the World Cup coincided with us offering a month of free football training for girls at our kid’s sessions in Leeds.
We’ve always had girls at our sessions but we want to do more to grow it, hence the offer.
It was great to see over 40 new players come along to the football sessions, but what did we learn?
Are the stereotypes still there?
What’s interesting is that the people who seem to care the least about boys and girl’s playing football together are actually the children.
We had several enquiries from parents who were concerned that the sessions were mixed.
Why wouldn’t they be!?
Girls should not feel nervous about playing sport with boys and vice versa.
If they do then it comes down to underlying things that have either happened/being said at school or at home.
There are so many benefits of playing with and against boys and we’ve seen that with several girls at our sessions over the last 5 years.
The boys also take a lot from it, but that’s for another blog.
I wouldn’t mind betting it didn’t bother those Lionesses when they were kids and we’ve all just seen how good they now are.
As parents we need to do as much as we can to encourage girls to build their confidence in this area as the pro’s far outweigh the con’s.
In a time when there is so much attention on things like women not getting paid as much as men or not getting the top jobs in the corporate world, what message are we sending to our daughters if we feel they shouldn’t play junior sport with the boys?
It sets the tone from an early age and possibly fosters a feeling of inadequacy.
As a father of a little girl I am aiming to do all I can to make sure she grows up to have no fear in this area.
She’ll happily play against boys or girls because she won’t view it any other way aside from ‘I’m just playing with other children’.
Some will argue it changes as they get older. Again, that’s for another time, but certainly at the primary school ages mixed sport should be welcomed.
The Future of girls football
The future looks bright for women’s football in the UK and the Lionesses have helped massively.
The difference with the USA is that the girl’s game has been huge over there for many years, but we took them so close!
Now it is fundamental that we all get behind it and let it snowball into something really special.
It starts with the kids and encouraging more girls to join in at a young age.
What we know
Back to Isla.
Isla started with us a few months ago and was nervous because she was the only girl in a group of boys.
She's had her ups and downs but she's stuck at it and has come out the other side a much better player.
More importantly she's improved her confidence and resilience.
It's the same with several other girls who we've coaches alongside the boys. They have all improved both physically and mentally.
The other big factor is that their parents encouraged them and welcomed them having the challenge.
This is absolutely key to it all.
Well done Isla. We're very proud of you.