The UK government has announced a new £30million fund to deliver approximately 30 new state-of-the-art 3G pitches at sites supporting women’s and girls’ teams across England.
The move follows the England women’s team’s call for equal access to football in schools for boys and girls following their European Championship success last summer.
Sarina Wiegman’s side went on to reach the final of the World Cup earlier this year with women and girls across the country now set to benefit from a substantial cash injection to help “turbocharge the development opportunities for the next generation” of potential players.
Culture secretary Lucy Frazer made the announcement in person to the Lionesses following a training session at St George’s Park on Tuesday.
She said: “The Lionesses display incredible talent and have achieved highly prized success. Their Euros victory gripped the nation, their success getting through to the World Cup final lifted the national mood.
“During the World Cup I said that we would do everything possible to support women and girls’ football so we can watch our Lionesses roar on the world stage for generations to come. Today, along with The FA I am launching a £30million fund to make sure the next generation of girls have equal opportunities to get into sport.
“Building on our unprecedented support for grassroots facilities, this is just the latest move in our commitment to invest in women and girls’ grassroots sport facilities, and ensure the squad’s legacy lives long into the future.”
Reserved peak-time slots, women and girls only evenings and priority booking for women’s and girls’ teams will be introduced at each of the new sites while the facilities will provide dedicated female changing rooms, shower facilities and accessible toilets.
The UK government is providing £25m of the funding with the Football Association contributing a further £5m.
FA CEO Mark Bullingham said: “We are delighted to work alongside DCMS to commit this funding to the Football Foundation as it will make a tangible difference to women’s and girls’ football. The biggest obstacle to participation is access to pitches and this investment will provide high quality facilities in communities across the country that need them the most.
“This funding will only be made available to facilities with women’s and girls’ football provision at their core. The local pitch is where it all starts and we hope this will help women and girls from all communities and of all ages to play the sport.
“For some a game of football will be simply a source of happiness and health, for others it might be a competitive challenge and for a few it will be the start of a journey to the top of the game. Whatever the motivation these facilities are designed to support the players.
“The Lionesses were crucial to this funding and it again showcases the impact they have on our country. Their performances on the pitch have driven societal change and equal opportunities, and this is another tangible example of the legacy they continue to create. We’re proud to work alongside them and are grateful for everything they continue to do.”
Millie Bright, England’s captain at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, said: “We’re proud to have been able to give the nation a lot to cheer in the last 18 months through what we’ve achieved on the pitch but we’ve been clear we want to drive change off the pitch too.
“One of our collective biggest motivations and core values is for females across the country to have equal opportunity.
“We are really pleased to see the commitment towards this funding and the promise that this will be prioritised for the growth of women’s and girls’ football so whatever the motivation to play, there is a safe and accessible area for females to go to.”
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