Encouraging girls to play football
With the women’s Euros 2022 here, it is a great time to consider opportunities for girls’ football in schools. There can be a stigma around girls playing foootball with less chances for girls to participate in the sport. Men’s football is always talked about, highlighted, and supported with plenty of football clubs and sessions available within schools. It is important for teachers to acknowledge this and create a rise of equal access to football for girls. Schools can offer football as part of the sports program to all pupils, as well as opportunities within breaks and after school clubs.
To help teachers accomplish this goal, we have compiled a few ways to encourage girls to play football.
Educate the class
Create time within your day to educate your class about women’s football. This will shed light on equality within football and let pupils understand that it can be for everyone. Talking about women’s football with children will inspire the girls as they discover it’s a sport for them too, as well as giving knowledge to pupils about equality in sport.
Show girls role models that they can look up to and learn from. Use any women teachers who play football outside of school, women professional footballers, or local women in football clubs. Let these women talk about their experiences and how they broke down barriers to play football. This will show everyone that football is more than just a sport for boys.
Create a space for girls’ or mixed/shared facilities
A large part of girls not wanting to participate in football is due to the lack of facilities offered for them. Boys have facilities and equipment offered in schools for football such as appropriate clothing and shoes to play in the field, a space to play football such as a nearby field or AstroTurf, and a place to get changed.
Girls need to feel equal to the boys to be comfortable with partaking in football. Make sure to create spaces for them to play in, whether that’s the playground or sharing the same space that the boys use. Allow girls to access appropriate clothing and shoes to play football in. Most importantly, create a space where girls can get changed so that they want to get ready to play.
Create an all-girls football club
Most girls may sometimes feel like they can’t join in with playing football as when the opportunity is offered, it is with the boys. There are many reasons as to why girls feel uncomfortable playing alongside boys, but the main one is due to skill levels. Girls start playing football later than boys due to limited opportunities. Many girls are just building their confidence with the sport.
To overcome this, offer a chance for girls’ football in schools. Teachers can do this by creating an all-girls football club or splitting football games by gender. Girls will feel more confident to play if it’s with other girls. To encourage girls to play football even more, have a woman teacher to coach. This will give girls in your class someone to look up to. Make sure the teacher is very knowledgeable in football, can teach the sport, and is interested in football. This could be a close colleague you know or even yourself.
Tailor football games for different abilities and genders
In some instances, it may not be possible to always offer an all-girls game of football. Teachers should tailor the game with different abilities in mind. This should be thought about in any game but especially for mixed gender games.
Consider the team choosing ensuring that there is a mixture of abilities in each team. This allows a fair game to be played so that there’s an equal chance of either team winning. As well as this, think about rules that are set in football and how they can be tweaked for all abilities.
Make every pupil aware of teamwork so the children can help each other therefore, everyone enjoys playing. Boys must understand inclusion within football to prevent any bullying towards girls joining in. This can be resolved by having a conversation with the boys in your class to make them aware and allow them to be inclusive and thoughtful.
Make games involving football
A great way to get girls interested in playing football is by creating football centered games where they can have fun. Football doesn’t have to be a traditional game and teachers can create new games or tweak some existing ones.
An excellent game to play is Disney shooting stars. Use Disney storylines and songs alongside the game to create more interest. All you have to do is gather a list of popular Disney characters and once the song or storyline is played, the children must become that character whilst playing football. This makes the traditional game of football more fun and inclusive for girls. For resources to do with this game or further information click here.
Other potential games you could get your pupils to play are cats & dogs or bulldogs. These are both great games to play in a mixed gender group as they let girls feel comfortable and included.
A great way to implement girls’ football in schools is to offer incentives and feedback to your pupils. This could be verbal feedback about pupil’s progress or written feedback. Doing this allows pupils to keep track of their progress with football and makes them want to continue playing. Girls can feel more at ease with positive feedback from their teacher after each game. They will strive to make better progress each time and have a goal that they want to accomplish, which keeps their interest in playing football.
For a reward you could offer stickers, trophies, certificates, or medals for hard work and effort put into the game. This makes playing football worthwhile for girls as they enjoy it more with an incentive. Plus, they get rewarded for their efforts which, makes them want to return to playing football.
Other barriers stopping girls from playing football & how to overcome them
There are a few other barriers that can stop girls from enjoying and playing football which teachers need to consider, as well as make changes for girls to feel more comfortable.
A large part of why girls feel they can’t or don’t want to play comes from social stereotyping and bullying. With this, girls can also doubt their skill level in football. To combat this, teachers can educate their class on the importance of equality in sports as well as going through anti-bullying lessons. Doing this will give everyone knowledge on how to treat others whilst playing sports. Teachers can also set up one to ones with pupils so they can confide in them. This is perfect for girls to say any worries about playing football or report any bullying they may have received. It is important to listen to all worries from all genders and act immediately. Through this make sure to compliment girls on how well they are doing with football so they feel encouraged.
Some girls may not want to play football due to the competitiveness and fear or failure. To ease this worry, teachers can take the competitiveness away using football related games or amending the rules to football. Implementing this allows pupils to understand that football isn’t always about the winning and more about enjoying themselves.
For any resources, or further information, you may need to aid you in encouraging girls to play football, click here. There are numerous resources and detailed information about girls’ football in schools to help teachers strive towards a more equal future in sports.
Encouraging girls to play football is vital to eliminate the stigma that comes with women’s football. Girls need to feel comfortable whilst playing and teachers need to do everything they can to achieve this. Girls’ football in schools needs to grow with plenty of opportunities for them to take an interest.
Implement some of these techniques with your class or create your own. Make sure to take initiative and strive towards equal access for girls in football.
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