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Igniting the passion for women’s football

Massice group of women wearing football kits standsing in a recreation ground
Picture courtesy of Sussex FA

How the Women's World Cup will hopefully 'ignite the passion everyone has for women's football'

With the Women’s World Cup currently taking place in Australia and New Zealand, Active Sussex have been looking at how the women’s football is growing in the county and what can be done to support this development.

Here we catch up Jade Harker, the development manager at Sussex County Football Association. 

“Women’s football in Sussex has been continuously growing, but the legacy of the Women’s Euros has seen it grow in so many different areas of the game,” says Jade Harker. “It’s been fantastic to see.”

Jade, who is currently in Australia watching the Women’s World Cup, lists the different programmes Sussex County FA currently run to encourage more girls and women to take part.

This includes signing up 34 providers to deliver Wildcats programmes to girls age 5-11, and 14 providers to deliver squad Programmes to girls aged 12-14.

“Affiliated girls and women’s football is ever growing along with the number of Sussex based schools that offer girls the opportunity to play football,” Jade says.

“A women’s recreational football festival, which runs once a month, has over 150 participants every month.

“A women’s walking football series, which runs once a month and in its infancy, has had over 60 participants and is growing.

“And an LGTBQ+ series running across the summertime, called Super Sixes, has over 100 participants.”

Other successes include more than 200 women taking the FA Playmaker, with many now moving on to the introduction to coaching football qualification.

The University Female Coaching Network has more than 30 participants while the adult female coaches network called SO GOOD, has more than 70 members.

Sussex County FA have also developed a female only Refereeing course Referee Spotlight: Leila Ataei – Sussex County FA (sussexfa.com)

When asked what has helped develop the game, Jade highlights the attention big events like the Euros, and hopefully the World Cup, has received.

“Having the Women’s World Cup visible to everyone is so important to continue to build on the legacy of the Women’s Euros,” says Jade.

“Having the games broadcast and spoken about here in England will only ignite the passion everyone has for women’s football. 

“Young girls and women of all abilities and ages will be inspired once again to get involved in any capacity that they wish. 

“The number of female players, coaches and referees will increase with exposure to the world cup and we are in a fantastic place to be able to support anyone on their chosen journey.”

And she added: “Excitingly the number of males that are now regular supporters of WSL fixtures is incredible and it’s always a great sight when you see young boys with female England role models on the back of their shirts.”

Jade is very positive about the future of the women’s game.

“The barriers are coming down and women are feeling more confident to take their place in the beautiful game,” she says.

“The Sussex County FA Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) supports Sussex FA with removing any potential barriers and making the game accessible for all.”

And she adds: “We are always looking for partners that we can work with to help drive the game forward. 

“Leisure centres and schools are a great support when it comes to facilities for new activities, volunteers to help drive current and new activities are always welcome from any partners that we work with. 

“We are also very interested in any partners that can connect us with new community groups so we can ensure our opportunities are accessible to everyone.”

If you know someone who would like to get involved, please email development@sussexfa.com 

 Sussex County FA are offering funding to celebrate the Women’s World Cup. Weetabix Wildcats Providers can apply for up to £500 to use on equipment, marketing, growing their workforce or any other areas that will sustain and improve the opportunities they currently provide. The closing date for this is Monday, July 31. 

Picture courtesy of Sussex FA
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