Eastern Eye (UK)


- Guardian.

WOMEN of colour are making strides in football with their proportion in England youth teams rising significan­tly in the past five years, indicating that the governing body’s diversity and accessibil­ity efforts are paying off, according to the latest data.

The proportion of BAME players selected for England women’s youth teams has gone up from seven per cent in the 2017-18 season to the current 17 per cent.

Figures released by the Football Associatio­n (FA) showed that the share of BAME players picked for women’s under-17 camps has increased to 36 per cent from five per cent two years ago.

The introducti­on of Discover My Talent in 2021 appears to have played a key role in the improved diversity in football as it widened accessibil­ity of the game at the grassroots. Under the talent discovery scheme, anyone – a teacher, a coach, a parent or even a friend – can recommend and refer a potential player directly to the FA.

More than 3,000 players have been referred through the scheme in a year, with half of them coming from areas of higher deprivatio­n. Of them, 320 have been identified as a real talent of interest, while 75 are now in the final stages of selection for England’s U15, U16 and U17 teams.

Kay Cossington, the FA’s women’s technical director, said the organisati­on had a responsibi­lity to ensure that every young girl seeking a football career “has a clear pathway to doing so”.

“These changes ensure more focused investment and will address some of the historic challenges many different age groups have faced when trying to access the game”, Cossington said.

“We strive for our game to be more reflective of wider society and making it more inclusive and accessible is the central ambition to the restructur­e of our pathway.”

Anti-discrimina­tion campaign group Kick It Out has welcomed the FA’s efforts to find players from a wider pool of talents.

“We are encouraged by their ambition to ensure that every talented player, regardless of background, has the opportunit­y to fulfil their potential”, its chief operating officer, Hollie Varney, told the

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