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Women's Football News
On the back of England's storming World Cup success and following the launch of the FA's 'We Can Play' campaign, over 300 girls descended on Sheepmount Athletics Stadium this week to take part in a free FA Girls' Football Festival, aimed at increasing and retaining participation in the game.
Following the return of England's World Cup stars, attendances at last weekend's FA Women's Super League matches rose by 47% compared to the previous round. Compare this to the same figures last year and the increase is even more astounding at 237%.
The FA Girls' Football Festival brought together schools from across the county and was organised through the support of the Cumberland County FA. Girls aged between five and 11 years from various schools in the county were invited to test their skills in a range of activities combining football, fun and music. The festivals are a joint initiative by The FA and Continental Tyres, providing an exciting, interactive football experience for both those new to the game and regular players.
FA approved coaches led the event, with a number of FA staff and volunteers on hand to help out and referee, alongside Referee Ambassador Lucy Oliver. Sessions from the FA Skills team included drills, interactive games, mini matches and the ContiWarmUp Programme - the coaching programme from Continental Tyres endorsed by the FA.
Girls also chatted and enjoyed a kick-about with Stephanie Roche, Brooke Chaplen and Abbey Joice from Sunderland AFC Ladies, and Beth Hepple and Lauren Jordinson from Durham Women FC. The players were on hand to discuss life as top level female footballers and give advice on how to get involved in the game. The FA Women's Super League mascot Berry the Bear was also in attendance, joined by Olga the Fox from Carlisle United.
Polly Fildes, Women's Football National Project Officer for The FA, said: "The girls at today's event are high in spirits after a great few hours of fun and football. Following the World Cup and England's brilliant achievement, the girls here have got 23 new role models to look up to and couldn't wait to get involved in all the activities today.
"Getting such a high number of girls attending the event shows the emphasis and commitment that The FA and Continental Tyres put into getting the message out that football isn't just for boys, continuing the theme of The FA's #WeCanPlay campaign.
"It's a great time to be involved with the game. The Women's Super League has just started again and The Women's FA Cup Final is at Wembley Stadium for the first time on August 1. I'd be great to see everyone that cheered on England in the World Cup go and support those players at their local clubs too."
Stephanie Roche, a forward for Sunderland AFC Ladies and the Republic of Ireland, said: "It's been a great day here in Cumberland. The girls have got some really good skills and hopefully we will see them at a Women's Super League game soon.
"We had no events like this when I was younger, it's such a great opportunity for these kids to get into football and I wish we'd had something similar to inspire us.
"The World Cup has had a huge impact on these girls, they are inspired and passionate about the sport. If we can utilise this, women's football has a bright future!"
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