A new FA campaign has launched with the hope of raising girls participation in football.
The #LetGirlsPlay objective is to ensure girls have the same opportunities to play football in schools and clubs by 2024 as boys do.
By 2002, Football had become the top participation sport for women and girls in England and the profile of the women’s game was further boosted by the hosting of major tournaments in 2005 and 2012.
England’s Lionesses achievement in reaching one European Final and two World Cup quarter finals, and the launching of The FA Women’s Super League have also been inspirational moments in the FA deciding to push #LetGirlsPlay.
Nevaeh Nall, 12, plays for Rotherham United Whitehill girls Under 14s and , alongside her mother Donna, has spoken about her influences into the sport and her remarkable ongoing journey to success:
“I first started playing football when I was forced to by my brother, I then realised how much fun it was and wished to keep playing more and more.”
While pursuing opportunities to play the sport, Nevaeh joined local team Rotherham United Whitehill Girls and really started showcasing her ability. Last season she scored 39 goals in nine games.
Her standout performances didn’t go unnoticed and Nevaeh was soon selected by The FA Girls’ England Talent pathway, a scheme which identifies and prepares talented young players with the potential to become a senior Lioness.
Nevaeh has also been selected to represent her county, playing with the boys for Yorkshire in a competition being held in Barcelona:
“Next year I am going to Barcelona to play against other counties from all over the UK, playing for my county of Yorkshire.
“I am excited because my friend Gabby, who I play with in Rotherham, has also been selected and we are the only two girls in the team.”
When asked if her friends at school play football, Nevaeh replied:
“Sometimes it is hard to encourage my friends to play because they think that boys are better than girls.
When I get teased by boys who say I can’t play, I always get involved with them and out skill them!”
The captain of Rotherham United Women’s team, Helen Lynskey, 33, spoke approvingly of the FA’s #LetGirlsPlay movement:
“The FA need to do more but they are taking steps in the right direction, the #LetGirlsPlay campaign is a brilliant example of a good initiative they are pushing.
“When I was growing up there simply weren’t any opportunities to get involved in the sport at all.
“I was kicked out of the boys team aged 11 which hurt, so my dad, recognising it wasn’t fair, then decided to create a girls team, Rotherham Town. We then went on to win the league the next 5 years.”
Helen, a former striker who now plays in defence, is the current joint top scorer of Rotherham United Women’s team with five goals in ten games so far this season. The Rotherham Women’s team are currently second in their division.
Had Helen not had the support of her father and natural talent, perhaps she wouldn’t have made it as a footballer and had the career she has because of the lack of opportunities available to her.
In contrast, Nevaeh has blossomed from FA led initiatives, broken stereotypes and proved her outstanding qualities as a footballer, highlighting the importance of the #LetGirlsPlay movement.