The English Football Association (FA) is funding a series of projects with the goal of developing Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) women's and girls' football – thanks to the help of UEFA's innovative Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP) which assists UEFA's member national associations in nurturing and promoting the women's game throughout Europe.
WFDP funding assistance for various projects to be delivered by the FA means the English association will be able to provide significant support to more female players, officials, tutors, coaches, volunteers and administrators from BAME communities in England. Asian communities have been identified as a priority area as a result of their under-representation.
The FA feels that while awareness and goodwill are at an all-time high across the game in England, representation from BAME women in all areas of football is low, with few visible role models and no Asian players in England or FA Women's Super League teams. UEFA's support is aiding the FA in funding initiatives linked to playing, qualifications, workforce signposting and volunteer placements across both professional and grassroots football.
UEFA and the FA have recently funded the National BAME Women's Futsal Festival, in partnership with the Muslim Women's Sports Foundation. The event was staged at the FA's National Football Centre, St George's Park.
"As governing body of football [in England], the FA has a duty to make the game more inclusive," says FA general secretary Alex Horne. "Not only that, we have committed through the inclusion and anti-discrimination plan to take steps that will make change happen." While women's football is growing successfully in England, the FA remains fully aware that further work is needed, and is committed to helping the sport improve at all levels, in particular for those from minority ethnic backgrounds.
As part of English football's commitment to inclusion and diversity throughout the game, the FA's inclusion and anti-discrimination plan comprises various targets geared towards increasing representation, participation and progress of BAME women and girls.
Targets include – given that Asian communities are getting priority status – the implementation of programmes that boost the number of girls from BAME communities playing football; championing BAME female role models in the game and strengthening the pool of recruitment officers responsible for talent identification from the BAME community; supporting the recruitment of BAME girls; and facilitating the recruitment of coaches and referees from BAME backgrounds.
Competition for FA funding was fierce, and the selection panel – including representatives from the FA's national women's committee and staff from the association's development and equity departments – judged the applications on issues such as value for money, sustainability and partnership working.
The series of successful schemes, which have significant Asian female representation, will be delivered until September. They will involve partnership work with respective county football associations, local professional clubs and community groups.
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