FOOTBALL: Girl power at Redlands festival

SAINTS ALIVE: All Saints School pupils cheering on their team-mates

SAINTS ALIVE: All Saints School pupils cheering on their team-mates

First published in Sport

THE FA Girls’ Football Festival visited Weymouth with a whole host of events and activities on show.

Girls from local schools totalling 250 gathered at a sun-drenched Redlands Community Sports Hub to take part in the free programme, aimed at increasing and retaining participation in the game.

The event was organised through the support of the Dorset County FA.

The participants, aged between seven and 14-years-old, were accompanied by Yeovil Town Ladies’ stars Kirsty Whitton, Rachael Edwards and Rachel Simkin, who took part in activities and a question and answer session.

The format of the day was fun and active, combining football, lifestyle and music.

FA-approved coaches led the festival and activities included skills and drills, interactive games with a target shoot, speed cage, batak boards and mini matches inside an inflatable pitch.

Referee ambassadors delivered a workshop, and girls also had the chance to pose with the FA Women’s Super League trophy, the Cyprus Cup and The FA WSL Continental Cup.

Sue Hough, chairman of FA women’s committee said: “I think it is absolutely brilliant to introduce so many girls to the activities around the sport. You only have to look at the girls’ faces to see how much they are enjoying themselves.

“Hopefully following on from this festival they will be interested to go along to a skills centre or join a girls club, so I think they are essential and an inspiration to schoolgirls.”

Simkin spoke about the limited training time and opportunities she had coming through the Dorset County FA Centre of Excellence, and the opportunities available to young girls now.

She said: “The only thing we had with the Dorset development side was a session on a Monday. I’ve never seen anything like this, it’s absolutely fantastic and it’s really inspiring for young girls to get them involved in women’s football.

“I would have loved to take part in something like this when I was 10 or 11.”

Speaking about the festivals, Sarah Lawler, Yeovil Town Ladies’ manager said: “I think they are crucial because it gives a chance to girls who have never played before to try lots of different skills and experiment with the coaches.”

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