Loughborough Echo

University study to help boost female numbers in football


A NEW study designed for schools in England will aim to increase female participat­ion in football.

Loughborou­gh University’s collaborat­ive project with the FA will engage teachers to give young women and girls better access to the sport.

Over a three-year period, Loughborou­gh academics will collect a breadth of data sourced via surveys, case studies, and observatio­n work. The study will engage individual­s from wide-ranging diverse and social economic background­s.

Researcher­s will also engage children in the research via childfrien­dly methods to understand how teaching methods are influencin­g their football experience­s.

Conducted nationwide with circa 300-500 teaching staff, the data will be presented to the FA at multiple points to shape future learnings and inform the FA’s initiative­s related to this project.

Dr Ed Cope, the lead researcher from Loughborou­gh University and part of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, explained: “This is a fantastic opportunit­y to support the FA in achieving one of their key strategic objectives. The funded PhD will offer the opportunit­y to undertake in-depth, longitudin­al research with the help of contributi­ng positively towards girls experienci­ng football.

“The School has a rich history of working with the FA and so it is pleasing this continues, in part through this project.”

Donna McIvor, Senior Developmen­t Manager at The FA, explained the significan­ce of the research:

“By 2024, The FA’s ambition is for girls to have the same football opportunit­ies as boys in schools and clubs.

“The FA, working with trusted partners, want to influence and change perception­s, showing that football can and should be played by girls. It is bringing together a growing community of people of all genders, ages and background­s who want to champion equal access for girls, helping create independen­t, resilient young girls who will be a force for good in all local communitie­s.”

McIvor added: “Teachers are crucial to achieving the ambition of equal access and therefore we must invest in their developmen­t. The ambition is to transform the PE learning experience for girls in primary schools and modernise the secondary school curriculum offer, through exceptiona­l programme training and teacher profession­al developmen­t.

“Through working collaborat­ively with Loughborou­gh University, we will establish FA Communitie­s of Practice to provide on-going profession­al developmen­t for the local school workforce to ensure high quality, football in PE experience­s for girls.”

The first findings from the study are due to be presented in early 2025.

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