Thursday 8th March 2018
Following the hugely successful launch of its ground-breaking new girls football scheme London Leopards, the London Football Association received 105 applications from women wanting to join its coaching programme, more than quadrupling its year one target of 25.
Recognising the vast opportunity to develop women in this area of the game, the London FA has accepted 40 applicants onto its Level 1 coaching course as part of the London Leopards initiative. These successful applicants will be allocated to one of the seven Professional Club Community Trusts who will be delivering the London Leopard football sessions to girls.
Assessed by five members of the London FA team, applications were assessed against their playing, coaching and volunteering experience as well as their passion for women and girl’s football.
Lisa Pearce, CEO of the London FA comments: “You always hope to exceed any targets set but to quadruple our year one target from launch was beyond anything we expected. It shows that there is a real appetite amongst women to develop themselves in this area of football and provide opportunities to young girls in the sport. We were particularly delighted with the diversity of applicants. The ages of those who entered ranged from 17 to 50 which really shows how inclusive football can be.”
Stewart Goshawk, CEO of Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST), the organisation backing the London Leopards initiative, adds: “It’s a very exciting time for women and girl’s football in London and we hope the 40 candidates selected as London Leopards coaches can be a catalyst in driving increased female participation in football across London. These women will act as fantastic role models to the young girls they engage with and WNST is excited to follow and support their journey.”
The successful applicants will be invited to attend their Level 1 coaching training from March onwards. The London FA is running two London Leopards specific, female-only courses and will also be offering places on their existing Level 1 training courses to any who can’t make the dates of the other two. All courses are to be delivered free of charge to those women who are part of the London Leopards programme.
Andrea Ellis, 43, was one of the successful applicants. She said: “From a young age I have always been passionate about football. I always wanted to play but at the time girls were not supported in this. Now as a teacher and the school’s PE Lead I work with children where I actively promote inclusion of girls in all sports.
“Taking part in the London Leopards programme will provide me with a strong basis in the understanding, skills and knowledge I need to develop and share my love of the game with the next generation of girls. It will also open up opportunities to forge positive relationships with local football community trusts who, when working together through better standards in training and female role models, we can achieve the long-term goal of higher levels of participation in girl’s football.”
18-year-old Amy Bright, another successful applicant, adds: “I’m really excited to have the opportunity to be a role model for young football players who otherwise may not have someone to look up to and aspire to be like. I hope this will keep them playing the sport for the rest of their lives due to a solid foundation and learning programme from when they were young.”
As well as recruiting and training 100 new female coaches over the course of the four-year project, London Leopards will deliver fun football introduction sessions to 1,000 7-11-year-old girls. The week commencing 19 March will see the community trusts deliver school roadshows to girls, supported by the new female coaches. The out-of-school sessions will then take place at the end of the Easter holidays.
The London Leopards initiative will be delivered by eight Professional Club Community Trusts: AFC Wimbledon Foundation, Arsenal Women, Charlton Athletic Women’s, Chelsea Foundation, Leyton Orient Trust, Millwall Community Trust, QPR FC in the Community Trust and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. In addition to delivering school roadshows and an eight-week introduction to football programme outside of school hours, the clubs have also been tasked with identifying pathways to offer girls the chance to transition into their grassroots clubs or other similar programmes. In year one of this project, 100 sessions will be delivered with a target 25% conversion rate into further playing opportunities.
For more information about the London Leopards initiative, please visit: www.londonfa.com/london-leopards.