Women’s and girls’ football has been steadily growing in popularity in recent years thanks to higher standards of play and increased TV coverage of games.
This culminated in the Lionesses’ incredible victory at the Euros this year, inspiring countless girls to take up the sport. But how accessible to girls is football as a PE subject in schools?
The history of women’s football
Women playing football isn’t a new development. One of the first recorded women’s matches was a game billed as Scotland v England held at Edinburgh’s Hibernian Park on 9 May 1881.
The popularity of women’s football grew during the First World War when women took on jobs traditionally held by men. Thousands of women worked in munitions factories, and workplace teams were formed.
The most famous of these was the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team. Dick, Kerr and Company was a locomotive and tramcar manufacturer that switched factory production to supply ammunition during the war.
In 1920, 53,000 spectators watched a game between the Dick, Kerr Ladies and St. Helens. But these record crowds were short-lived as on 5 December 1921, The FA banned women from playing on FA-affiliated pitches, encouraging associated clubs to follow suit.
Although The FA stated, ‘the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged’, it’s likely there was a financial motivation. Women’s games were generally played for charitable causes, unlike the commercial men’s game, which could bring in revenue for The FA.
The ban remained in place for 50 years, making it a mammoth struggle for women’s football ever to reach the same level as the men’s game.
Football for girls in schools
In 2020, The FA set out a new initiative, Inspiring Positive Change – a 2024 goal for every primary school-aged girl to have equal access to football in schools and clubs.
The FA found that while 72% of girls played as much football as boys in primary school, the figure falls to 44% when in secondary school. Only 40% of secondary schools in the UK offer girls the same access to football via after-school clubs as boys.
The FA commented: ‘at a practical level, this means embedding football for girls in schools, as part of the PE curriculum and in after-school sessions.’
However, the Department for Education has refused to guarantee girls will be given the same opportunity for football lessons in school as boys. The current guidance is
to allow girls equal opportunities to participate in comparable sporting activities, such as
netball, badminton, tennis, and rounders within the national curriculum.
Currently, it’s up to schools to decide which sports they teach.
Benefits of girls playing football
It’s been shown that playing football provides girls with far more than just physical benefits.
Being part of a football team has been proven to boost self-esteem and improve confidence in girls. They feel more motivated and empowered to achieve their goals.
Playing football also develops social skills as girls learn how to work together and develop friendships. In turn, this helps to reduce anxiety.
After their stunning success at the Euros, the England women’s football team has campaigned for all girls to have the opportunity to play football at school. They also called on the government to ensure all girls can access a minimum of two hours of physical education a week.
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup to look forward to next year, it’s likely that even more girls will be inspired to take up the sport.
How we can all help to initiate change
Planning to incorporate two hours of physical education into your timetable is as vital as planning an academic schedule.
That’s why our secondary school planners support learning and development with healthy lifestyle and mental wellbeing resource.
The Reference Section at the back of our secondary planners cover all aspects of healthy living, from eating well, exercising and getting the right amount of sleep to exploring the growth mindset and understanding how to improve mental health.
If you want to know more about our secondary planner content for 2022/2023, please get in touch on 01252 368 328 or visit our website where you can explore the diary content in digital format at https://boomeranged.co.uk/portfolio/secondary-design-school-planners/