Growing coaching base for girls is the Wright move

8 August 2023

A new scheme to get more women qualified to coach girls’ football at a grassroots level has been launched by the Barclays Community Football Fund with support from Sported.

The grant programme is being backed by Barclays football ambassador, Arsenal and England legend Ian Wright, who is a massive advocate of the women’s game.

The Barclays Community Football Fund has already successfully grown participation in football at every level by offering community groups the opportunity to access funding, resources, and training, to make football more accessible in communities across the UK.

Despite a huge increase in demand for girls’ football, research from England’s Football Association shows that only 5% of FA-qualified coaches are women, with similar figures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There has been a massive increase in demand for football amongst girls, with 100,000 more girls now playing football compared to five years ago, with the focus on the FIFA Women’s World Cup underlining the greatest visibility of the female game.

However there is a lack of representation and female role models. Increasing the number of high-quality female coaches in the girls’ game is crucial to improve standards, and to show girls they can be involved in football in lots of different ways.

To launch these coaching grants, Barclays has spoken to and photographed ten incredible female coaches from Sported member groups who have shared their inspiring stories.

“We are female-only because girls nowadays, especially this generation, they want someone that looks like you to be motivated by you,” said Leicester-based Annie Zaidi, one of the ten featured trailblazers.

“Whereas we didn’t have that. We didn’t have that mindset. We just went out and did it.

“But these girls are like, ‘if there’s no-one who looks like me doing what I’m doing, what’s the point?’ And we need to get rid of the narrative and say, ‘Look, we’re here, we’re not going anywhere. We opened a door for you. So there’s no excuse for you not to go for it, instead of us breaking the door down for no reason.’”

This fund is available to all clubs and groups that run football activities for girls and aspire to get more female coaches qualified.

Groups can apply for funding to cover the cost of a Level 1 Introduction to Coaching Football or equivalent qualification – with up to two grants available per club/group.

The Barclays Community Football Fund targets greater inclusion of young people from under-represented groups. This includes women and girls, young people with disabilities, from racially diverse communities, from the LGBTQ+ community and from lower socio-economic groups.

“The success of the Barclays funding was fantastic,” added Zaidi. “The brainchild was to have a ladies session from the Together Fund supported by Sported and we got 10-12 young mothers coming in, letting the hair down excuse the pun, having a laugh. And they want to learn skills so they can go out with their daughters and play football.

“When we were growing up. We were in the kitchen developing a relationship with mum cooking chapattis and biryanis. Now moms are going in the back garden or park with the daughters and playing football. That’s a cultural shift. And that’s a narrative that we’re changing.”

Applications are welcome from not-for-profit organisations, including community groups, youth groups, and traditional football clubs, who are submitting on behalf of the individuals who want to undertake their football coaching qualification. Groups do not have to be existing Sported members to participate.

Joanna Di Paola, Head of Partnerships at Sported, said: “We know the barriers that women and girls face getting into both playing and coaching football. We want to open doors in our communities and widen the base at a grassroots level, helping to create wonderful female role models for our future generations.

“It is great to have powerful advocates like Ian Wright who are not just talking about expanding those opportunities but taking action too.

“The ten initial Sported members supported by the programme are just the start and we hope it can spur a wave of female coaches who will grow the game and help us in our goal of making sport more inclusive.”

To find out more, including how to apply, click here.

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