Football Focus: What Government funding pledges means for clubs like Frenford & MSA and future Lionesses?

Football is at the heart of the nation; whether it’s the Three Lions or the Lionesses, there’s nothing more that brings the country together.

After the triumph of the Lionesses at the UEFA Euro 2022 and their performance in the FIFA World Cup 2023, the government has announced it will be funding £30 million to deliver approximately 30 new facilities for grassroots organisations targeting girls and women only. It will include new state of the art pitches and facilities, reserved peak-time slots, women and girls only evenings and priority bookings. It will also provide dedicated female changing rooms, shower facilities and accessible toilets. According to the Football Foundation (the government and FA’s charity), there are currently over 8,500 women and girls football teams currently playing at sites that have received funding from the Football Foundation, whether that be for new goalposts, improved grass pitches or brand-new changing pavilions and 3G pitches.

Grassroots sport in the UK has a wonderful reputation for promoting physical wellbeing, community integration and talent development. There are approximately 150,000 sporting clubs in the UK all run by a variety of people and volunteers using their passion and experiences to inject spirit into the sport they love. The Muslimah Sports Association, being the first of its kind in the UK, the only charity that provides a breadth of sporting activities for Muslim women only, benefits from funding from a range of grants and stakeholders and the investment is certainly a lifeline.

The FA’s CEO Mark Bullingham said: “This funding will only be made available to facilities with women’s and girls’ football provision at their core. The local pitch is where it all starts and we hope this will help women and girls from all communities and of all ages to play the sport. For some a game of football will be simply a source of happiness and health, for others it might be a competitive challenge and for a few it will be the start of a journey to the top of the game. Whatever the motivation these facilities are designed to support the players.”

Clubs like Frenford & MSA Women’s FC, a partnership created to provide better access and facilities to women from the local community, values football and runs weekly sessions at the Frenford Clubs and Loxford Leisure Centre in East London for all abilities from ages 5+ and support from volunteers and stakeholders are crucial to keeping these sessions going. Whilst it has taken time to establish and build trust with the community, the club now sees up to 100 women and girls attend across its weekly sessions, something that has taken dedication and investment to build. Whilst there is still a long way for grassroots organisations to reach the level of elite sport, with more recognition from the government, international sports organisations and dedicated volunteers, they will continue to run successfully raising the next generation of football players.

By Azmina

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