As a child I was busy most evenings, whether that was ballet on a Monday night, netball on a Tuesday, youth theatre on Wednesday, modern/jazz on a Thursday as well as dance and horse riding on a Saturday. I was active and I loved it, but it was all the ‘typical’ girly sports and activities. I still wonder to this day why my parents didn’t send me to football or take me to tennis lessons, as ironically they are the two sports I love to watch. To be honest, I don’t even remember playing football at school (primary and high school). In P.E it was always field hockey, rounders, netball, or ‘gymnastics’ in the sports hall – football was never an option when the girls and the boys were separated for P.E.
Football has always been in my life growing up in a Tottenham Hotspur household – the spectatorship, just not the playing. I’m always surprised why I didn’t play, but then again I was always the ‘dance’ girl, starting ballet at 3 and going through the exams and the shows. Yet I always played Netball, even at Primary school taking part in mini tournaments at the local leisure centre and the ‘school league’ across my town – I still have my certificates to this.
On Thursday (13th), UEFA launched what should be an incredible campaign to help get girls into football, teaming up with Disney. The Disney Playmakers scheme is designed through storytelling, using Disney characters to demonstrate the fun of regular physical activity and of course football. The program is designed to target girls aged 5-8 years old in seven UEFA national football associations including Scotland and Belgium, in schools, clubs and local communities.
This campaign is in association with Disney Incredibles II (which is just an amazing film and you should all watch it), developing ten sessions that follow the story. Not going to lie I’m very jealous, but I live in England and i’m 22 so I don’t qualify unfortunately.
The whole purpose of the scheme is to raise young girls confidence through making sport (football) fun, something that even as young girls we often think of sport being a ‘male sport’ as we are thrown into dance, gymnastics and horse riding. Also what girl wouldn’t want to be with her friends, helping to tell the story of Disney Incredibles II, while learning basic football skills. It sounds fun, and if I was 8 I would be making sure my parents found a way to take me to participate.
With the rise of women’s football, especially after what I considered to be a successful FIFA Women’s World Cup last year. For me, it was the first time I had taken women’s football seriously even as a woman who loves football, loves watching football and gets seriously caught up in the emotion of supporting Spurs and England. I was inspired by the Women’s World Cup, and I can only imagine how young girls were inspired to go out there and play football.
I still remember watching the Men’s World Cup in 2006. Okay I don’t really remember it, but I do remember the sticker book and exchanging stickers with the boys on lunch during Primary School. I even had a poster on my bedroom wall for the tournament, filling it in as the World Cup went on. I loved it, I was nine and I was falling in love with football. if only UEFA had launched a Playmakers and Disney program back then. Yes, I know it was the men’s and not the women’s, but I was inspired by the World Cup but never had the chance to play.
The program is ultimately about getting young girls active “and to learn different kinds of movement before the football comes in,”. I love the fact this is also just for young girls at the moment, and to help inspire the future generation of footballers, politicians, business women or whatever career they wish to pursue. Admittedly I was always very active growing up, so the active side probably wasn’t for me, but the football side – wow I would have loved that.