The Football Association, with the help of UEFA, delivered an ambitious programme to attract women and girls from diverse ethnic backgrounds to play football.
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Supported by funding from UEFA's HatTrick assistance scheme, the English Football Association (FA) staged a two-day national event with the aim of increasing participation in women's football among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
Over 1,000 players and 100 volunteers took part in the nationwide event, which included a national futsal festival and 11 local projects in diverse cities such as London, Newcastle, Sheffield and Birmingham. Eighteen different ethnicities were involved, with the project proving particularly successful among Asian women.
Kelly Simmons, director of participation and development at the Football Association, commented on the programme: "UEFA funding remains so important in helping to increase participation in women's and girls' football, an area which remains in the ascendancy and which is a key priority for the FA. This support is crucial in helping double the number of registered players, and provides more girls with the opportunity to play, particularly those from minority communities."
Two England women's players – Fern Whelan and Jess Clarke – attended the national futsal festival to meet the new recruits and promote their beloved sport to national and local media.
The impact of the €100,000 funding went beyond the actual projects – 12 new teams were created and 46 coaches obtained qualifications.
Value for money, sustainability and partnership were the guiding principles of the whole enterprise, as it incorporated not only the FA, but also county FAs, the Muslim Women's Sports Foundation, school sports partnerships, local councils, community centres and assorted Football in the Community Trusts.
Today there are 107,000 females registered as players in England, according to the UEFA women's football across the national associations 2016/17 report, and participation has risen by 19% in five years. Football has the best participation figures of any team sport for girls, its growth potential remaining substantial.