The Football Association and Sport England will invest ┬ú2.4m in women’s football with the aim of creating 40,000 new female players of the sport.
The bodies have joined forces with the Premier League and the Football League to provide grassroots training sessions within the clubs for women and girls aged between 14 and 25.
The programme, which will draw its funding from Sport England over the next two years, aims to reverse a decline in female participation of almost 20 per cent over the past seven years.
Participation in women’s football has dropped across all age groups since 2006 and is way down the list of sports played by women.
Less than 120,000 women play football at least once a week, fewer than netball, badminton and equestrian.
Katie Bottom started on a similar project 12 years ago; now she’s a coach with West Ham and expects to see more young women make the journey.
“I think this is going to make a massive difference,” she said. “Just looking at the facilities around here, even if it just buys us a couple more facilities around the area then that’s what we can do.
“If not, the coaching, we can get some good coaches in to coach the girls, and the girls will turn up if they have the facilities, the coaches, and their friends.”
West Ham community sports officer Shamajul Motin: “It’s amazing, what a boost for the community.
“We’ve been able to deliver probably a small portion of sessions but with the funding now it broadens the horizons in terms of different locations, different areas that need it.”
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said of the initiative: “The aim of this programme is to increase participation and Premier League clubs are in a unique position to do that.
“Not only can they attract participants through the power of the badge, but critically they can deliver a quality coaching experience.”
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