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UEFA announce first ambassador for UEFA Playmakers programme

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Sweden legend Lotta Schelin has become the first ambassador for the UEFA Playmakers programme, which has introduced football through the magic of Disney storytelling to over 95,300 young girls in Europe since 2020.

MALMÖ, SWEDEN - MAY 18: UEFA playmaker ambassador Lotta Schelin during the UEFA playmakers announcement before the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship 2023/2024 Final match between England and Spain at Malmö IP on May 18, 2024 in Malmö, Sweden. (Photo by Tyler Miller - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)
MALMÖ, SWEDEN - MAY 18: UEFA playmaker ambassador Lotta Schelin during the UEFA playmakers announcement before the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship 2023/2024 Final match between England and Spain at Malmö IP on May 18, 2024 in Malmö, Sweden. (Photo by Tyler Miller - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images) UEFA via Getty Images

Today in Malmö Sweden, women’s football icon Lotta Schelin was unveiled as the first-ever ambassador for UEFA Playmakers inspired by Disney, marking a significant milestone in the growth of the programme.

UEFA Playmakers is the pan-European participation initiative which has used the magic of Disney stories to introduce tens of thousands of girls aged five to eight across Europe to football.

The announcement was made in advance of the final of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship between Spain and England. A special Playmakers session was held as part of the pre-final fan zone in Malmö where parents and girls received a taster of the programme in a pop-up pitch.

Lotta Schelin is the perfect ambassador for UEFA Playmakers. On the pitch, she enjoyed a glittering career, scoring a record 88 goals for her national team in 185 appearances. At club level, she was a pivotal part of the Olympique Lyonnais team, winning eight consecutive French Championship titles, three UEFA Women’s Champions League crowns and five French Cups.

Beyond her on-field achievements, she passionately advocates for the growth of the sport, making her an ideal ambassador to inspire young girls to embrace the game.

"I am honoured to be part of the UEFA Playmakers family! Witnessing the sheer joy and excitement of so many young girls here in Malmö is incredibly inspiring. If I can play a part in sparking their interest in football, helping them take those first steps onto the pitch, that's already a huge victory".

Lotta Schelin, UEFA Playmakers ambassador

“Lotta is a legend of the game and we are delighted to have her as part of the Playmakers team. She embodies the spirit of our programme, and her involvement will undoubtedly empower more young girls to embrace football with joy and determination!"

Nadine Kessler, UEFA Managing Director of Women's Football

Lotta will act as a spokesperson for the programme, appearing at events across Europe and supporting national associations.

The Playmakers programme uses the attraction of Disney’s famous stories to give girls aged five to eight early exposure to playing football. Playmakers sessions are centred around famous Disney movie storylines and teach social skills, fundamental physical movement and the basics of football in a fun and safe environment.

Unlike traditional football programmes, each of Playmakers' ten initial training sessions follow the narrative of Disney and Pixar films such as Frozen II, the Incredibles 2, Moana or Encanto. Equipped with footballs, bibs and cones, trained coaches encourage participants to play the roles of popular characters, such as Elsa, Elastigirl, Moana or Mirabel, bringing the films’ action scenes to life through movement, teamwork and their imagination.

Playmakers is now operating across 47 of UEFA's 55 national member associations, from Belfast to Baku and has already introduced football to over 95,300 girls aged from five to eight across Europe.

A magical experience for girls, parents and coaches alike

UEFA Playmakers has made a tangible impact in national associations across Europe. Succeeding in the aim of getting more girls playing through movement, play and storytelling and providing unique opportunities to girls as a safe, fun and engaging entry pathway into the game.

Inspired by academic research, UEFA Playmakers sessions are held in 47 European national associations in over 4,600 locations. More than 95,300 girls have taken part in the programme that has trained over 6,600 UEFA Playmakers coaches.

Feedback* from girls, parents and coaches who take part in UEFA Playmakers demonstrates the tremendous positive impact of the programme in Europe:

96% of girls really enjoy the sessions.

91% of girls want to continue playing football.

94% of parents would recommend sessions to other parents.

75.3% of parents are more confident in their daughter playing football more regularly after UEFA Playmakers.

71% of coaches say they have become a better coach through working with UEFA Playmakers.

68% of UEFA Playmakers coaches are female and 43% had no prior coaching experience when joining UEFA Playmakers. Of the 334 coach educators, 63% are female.

Countries taking part in the UEFA Playmakers programme

Seven countries were part of the initial pilot phase in February 2020: Austria, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Romania, Scotland and Serbia.

In less than four years, an additional 40 countries have also joined the programme: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, Ukraine, Wales.

Note to media

Media interested in learning more about UEFA Playmakers can visit www.uefa.com/playmakers.

Photos and videos are available here.

*Leeds Beckett University research

In July 2023, Leeds Beckett University conducted a thorough research gathering process across 31 of UEFA’s National Associations taking part in the UEFA Playmakers programme. Data was captured from 1,392 parents and 965 coaches.

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