Just a few days ahead of The FA Girls’ Football Week, a week-long celebration of women’s football set to run from 5-11 October, The FA Girls’ Football Festival brought together schools from across the county and was organised through the support of the Oxfordshire FA. Girls aged between nine and 13 years from a number of primary and secondary school 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 Paula Wyatt. There were also sessions delivered by the FA Skills team including drills, interactive games, mini matches and the ContiWarmUp Programme - the coaching programme from Continental Tyres endorsed by the FA.
Not only this, the girls were also treated to a visit from Oxford United Women’s players Kat Nutman and Kayleigh Hines. 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 Olivia the Ox from Oxford United Football club.
Sarah Wood, Football Development Manager for Oxfordshire FA, said: “It was a great day and fantastic to see so many young girls from schools across the county getting involved in football and enjoying all the different activities on offer. Events like these provide an excellent opportunity to help us increase awareness of girls’ football across Oxfordshire and hopefully it will encourage even more young girls to take up the game at school level and join clubs in the future.”
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. Kat and Kayleigh from Oxford United Women were a brilliant addition to the event and the young players couldn’t wait to get involved in all the activities.
“Getting such a high number of girls attending today’s festival 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 women’s football. The final matches of the Women’s Super League are this weekend and it’s a really close contest between Chelsea Ladies and Manchester City Women for the title. We’ve seen a huge knock-on effect following this fantastic domestic season and England’s international success at the World Cup, with more and more girls playing at grassroots level. It’s really exciting to see as we know participation numbers are only going to continue to grow as more and more girls get excited about football.”