Women in sport is a hot topic at the moment.
Euro 2017 kicked off yesterday with both England and Scotland, who are in group D, playing on Wednesday evening, the Women’s Cricket World Cup is currently being hosted in the UK and the Wimbledon finals were held over the weekend.
When I was at school girls were limited to Netball, Hockey, Basketball and Rounders but in this day and age girls are being positively encouraged to try their hand at many more sports, including football.
Eliza has been asking to play football for a while now and whilst there is an afterschool club, it clashed with Rainbows, so we put it off for a term.
The Football Association and SSE have teamed up to launch a new initiative in 2017, SSE Wildcats, designed to inspire girls aged between 5-11 to be involved in the sport, with regular opportunities to play football and we were invited along to take part in a session.
SSE Wildcats give girls the chance to take part in organised sessions in a fun and engaging environment created exclusively for girls.
The beginning of the session saw the girls put into pairs and they had to complete some fun challenges, including rock, paper, scissors which had Eliza and Ellie, from Little Stuff, in fits of giggles.
These games helped them bond with each other, get warmed up and learn fundamental skills.
It wasn’t long before a football was introduced to the games and there were lots of giggles as they tried to roll it along other each others arms and to catch it again.
Once the warm up was done, the kids were divided into their age groups, with Eliza joining the 5 and 6 year olds. They then rotated with the other age groups, around a series of different games to try which each focused on a different set of skills.
Some required teamwork, others were based on ball skills and some were about speed.
At 6, Eliza has a tendency to lose focus and give up if she is not kept engaged, but the instructors were brilliant and if they could see the girls struggling they switched the games up a bit to get them back on course.
SSE believe’s that everyone deserves the same opportunities, regardless of gender and the Wildcats program gives girls the opportunity to discover a new sport, learn new skills and the confidence that brings, plus the opportunity to make lifelong friends.
In the last part of the session, the older girls got to have a go at playing a game of football, whereas the little ones tried their hand a five-a-side. I am not entirely sure Eliza got the idea of the game as she kept picking the ball up, but they all had fun and loved scoring goals.
SSE are the energy behind women’s football and are creating opportunities and making a difference at all levels of the game by giving over 1,000 girls the chance to kick a ball and enjoy the beautiful game for the first time.
At the end of the session, all the girls were awarded a Lioness Euro’s 2017 headband, a Euro’s 2017 Sports Bottle and a medal for their efforts, which they presented to each other.
Pop group Little Mix have teamed up with the FA, calling on the nation to support the England women’s football ahead of the 2017 European Championship in the Netherlands with their son ‘Salute’ being used to help unify support for the Lionesses.
The girls and the coaches sent their own salute to the team ahead of their first match on Wednesday.
Wildcats clubs, which have been running from spring, will continue through summer on a weekly basis and aim to provide a fun and safe space for girls to learn the game and make friends.
This initiative aims to show SSE’s continued commitment to increasing participation in the women’s game.