With the start of the women’s football world cup today, we thought it appropriate to share this infographic and blog from our friends at InterSoccer based in Switzerland on what you can do as an organisation, coach and parent to help support and motivate girls to play football.
The equality of males and females in football has always been a delicate subject. From 1921 to 1971, women were banned from playing on FA pitches. Women’s football was not added to the Olympic programme until as late as 1996.
However, recently we have seen a rapid rise in the number of female participants. According to UEFA, the number of professional and semi-professional players in Europe more than doubled between 2013 and 2017, from 1,680 to 3,572. It has since risen again by 50%. Along with participation, the interest in the girl’s game has grown as a whole. UEFA recorded a cumulative live TV audience of 3.52m people for the Women’s Champions League in 2016. This was a huge step forward for women’s football and the advance of females in sport as a whole.
As the largest grassroots football school in Switzerland, we understand that it can be daunting for girls, older or younger, to join a team and start playing football, so we have gathered a few of tips on how to spark their interest in football and keep them motivated when playing.
Spend time educating young boys & girls about women’s football
Equality should be something that is taught to children as soon as they set foot into the world of sport. Often it is from a young age that boys start to complain about playing with girls, become reluctant to pass the ball to girls and want to play on different teams because they think they are better than girls. It is important to teach children that girls have as much right to play football as boys, regardless of their current level.
Make training enjoyable, fun & competitive
Sport is such a powerful tool for engaging youngsters and by putting the focus on fun, it will hopefully allow girls to fall in love with the game and want to remain involved with it for a long time. Competition is appealing to girls and by keeping this competitive aspect fun, it will keep girls engaged in the training.
Welcome all abilities at all ages including beginners
Girls often start to play football much later than boys and for this reason it is important for girls, as much as boys, to feel welcome, regardless of their age or skill set. It is clear that a girl aged 14 joining a team will not be at the same level as a girl who has played since she was 6. However, both of these girls have potential to develop into great players, and both are entitled to a chance to play.
Make sure there are adapted facilities
It is not solely what happens on the pitch that can motivate the girls. Simple things, such as providing a dedicated changing area, will make them feel like they are given equal chances as boys, and that they have a right to be there and to play football. A club that offers basic facilities for both boys and girls will leave the players with an overall feeling of equality.
Ensure there are female coaches
It is daunting enough for anyone to start a new sport, but if we want to encourage girls to start or continue playing football, it is important to ensure that advice and training are also coming from other females whom they can relate to.
Be positive by reflecting progress in improvement and quality
Show girls that they are improving. They might not be aware of the progress they are making, especially if they lack experience in relation to other children on the team. Offer all players regular feedback on their effort and performance.
Set realistic goals
As a key motivation technique, try setting short, medium or long-term goals in order to have a final outcome to visualise while aiming for improvement and consistency. When setting the goals, make sure they are realistic, can be easily measured and that you take time to track them..
Celebrate small successes
After having set goals that can be reached, it is important to celebrate each success, small or big, for individuals or for the team. This will keep motivation at a high level as well as continuing to encourage players to keep setting personal and team ambitions.
This article was written by Rebecca Brown who is a Marketing & Business Masters Student at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and a former footballer who played for Haut-Lac International Bilingual School and St Légier.