The SSE Participation Programme provided an opportunity for clubs in The FA WSL and The FA Women’s Premier League to apply for funding which would help them create girls-only coaching sessions whilst also working alongside local clubs in their communities to help boost participation in girls’ football.
Oxford United Women were one of thirty-four successful professional clubs who applied for the programme (currently running as a pilot for the remainder of the year) and worked together with the Oxfordshire FA to identify Easington Sports FC in Banbury as an ideal club to participate in the programme locally.
The success of the programme in Oxfordshire comes from the delivery of a number of after-school coaching sessions to girls in primary schools in the Easington area. The after-school sessions are run by Oxford United qualified coaches who then encourage girls that enjoy the sport to attend local training sessions at Easington Sports FC on Saturday mornings.
Ruth Senior, Female Development Officer at Oxford United FC, said: “Part of what we're trying to achieve through the SSE Participation Programme is to help increase participation in girls’ football by providing a route into local teams from our after-school sessions. We saw lots of familiar faces from the school sessions at a recent Saturday morning training session at Easington Sports FC which is brilliant to see and hopefully the club will be able to form a girls’ team.”
Nearly 20 girls turned up to a Easington Sports FC in Banbury on Saturday 25th June, where Club Secretary and Team Manager, Jamie Hunter was overseeing the club's fifth open training session for girls-only, he said: “Already in our first five training sessions we’ve seen the numbers of girls participating double and we’re receiving huge amounts of interest via our website and Facebook page on a weekly basis.
“Long term, our ultimate goal is to set up a girls’ team for the Banbury area and at the moment things are looking good and we’re hoping to be able to get one up and running in the near future!”
Sarah Wood, Football Development Manager at Oxfordshire FA, said: “It’s fantastic to see the SSE Programme working successfully in Oxfordshire. It’s a great example of partnership work between grassroots football and a professional club. Girls’ football has massive potential in the Banbury and local area, and it’s great to see that Easington Sports are taking advantage of this.”
For information about the girls-only sessions at Easington Sports FC or other football opportunities for girls across Oxfordshire please contact Sarah Wood, Football Development Manager at Oxfordshire FA via email or call on 01993 894405.