With just a day to go before Wales face Estonia in Wrexham, Wales football bosses today revealed that the female game has grown by 50% since 2016.
The FAW Trust reports that a record 8,600 women and girls are now signed up to football clubs in Wales.
The announcement comes as the FAW Trust is gearing up to expand its Huddle programme. Launched last year, Huddle is designed for 5-12 year olds and aims to bridge the gap and support the transition between school and club football.
Focussing on fun and friendship, around 450 girls took part in its sessions in 2019. With an expected 20 new sites coming on board in April, that figure is set to double.
Caroline Spanton – recently appointed Interim CEO of the FAW Trust says:
“Research tells us that girls are more likely to be less confident than boys when joining a sports club. So Huddle is designed to give girls the opportunity to develop their skills and their confidence in a fun and sociable environment with their friends.”
Spanton is also keen to stress the contribution of the entire football family across Wales in the growth of the game:
“We’re really pleased with the progress to date and it is a huge testament to the work of coaches, clubs, volunteers, leagues and all our other partners who are providing more and more opportunities for women and girls every year. To reach our target, we know we need to do things differently which is why we are taking new approaches.”
A number of Wales’ women internationals have thrown their support behind the game. Wales and Liverpool defender Rhiannon Roberts says:
“The growth in the number of women and girls playing football is great news for the country. Not only will it help inspire players of the future at the elite level but it also helps improve the health and wellbeing of people in Wales.
“I recently visited Huddle events in Penrhyn Bay and Buckley and it was great seeing so many young girls enjoying playing football with their friends in such an inclusive and fun environment.”
As well as the Huddle initiative, the FAW Trust has several programmes in place in order to achieve the ambitious goal of 20,000 registered female players by 2024. These include football session with Rainbows Brownies and Guides as well as a secondary school programme which will launch in June 2020.