UCLan Sports Arena chosen as city’s hub
Girls in Preston will have more opportunities to play football thanks to The Football Association’s (FA) SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centre at the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Sports Arena.
The initiative, for girls aged 5 – 11, offers organised sessions in a fun and engaging environment created exclusively for girls. The club at UCLan Sports Arena is one of more than 900 centres established throughout England.
SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football sessions take place on a weekly basis, either after school or at weekends, and provide a safe environment where girls can try football for the first time. SSE and The FA hope the initiative will inspire participants to engage with football, meet new friends, develop fundamental skills, learn new things and create the foundation for a lifelong love of football.
UCLan’s session will run every Saturday morning 10.00am – 11.00am and cost £3. It will run as part of the already established and successful Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre (STFPSC), which works in partnership with UCLan Students’ Union and has grown from a charity providing football coaching to 4 to 16-year-olds, including disabled children, into a full functioning club with several age group teams.
Since the launch of SSE Wildcats we have seen great enthusiasm from the girls taking part to continue learning and playing football.
UCLan football development officer Cian McEvoy will be involved in running the SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centre. He said: “We are delighted to be a key partner in The FA’s initiative to encourage more girls into football. The SSE Wildcats Project will build on the success we’ve already had through the STFPSC to boost sport participation in the community and increase the number of women and girls in Preston who play football.”
Each SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centre will be run in conjunction with local County FAs and utilise qualified coaches and local facilities. As well as activities for girls, there will also be opportunities for attending parents, carers and siblings to engage with the sport at the same time through ‘Family Sessions’ including Soccercise and Walking football.
The initiative is in line with The FA’s Gameplan for Growth, with the target of doubling girls’ participation in the sport by 2020. The strategy for women’s and girls’ football at grassroots level includes initiatives alongside SSE Wildcats, such as FA Girls’ Football Week, the work done by STFPSC and UCLan’s work with Creative Support’s Blackburn Social Inclusion Service to arrange football tournaments promoting positive mental health and social inclusion for men and women.
We are excited at the opportunities this project will provide for girls. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t played before, this is all about getting girls involved in football regardless of their experience or ability.
Pete Mason, Chair of STFPSC, said: “We are excited at the opportunities this project will provide for girls. Whist the project is for 16 weeks, we will be continuing it thereafter at the STFPSC to allow participants to continue to enjoy the opportunity to play football in a friendly, safe and professional environment. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t played before, this is all about getting girls involved in football regardless of their experience or ability.
“At the STFPSC, we strive to allow each individual to progress to their full ability within a team environment and this project in partnership with UCLan and The FA allows us to provide that opportunity to girls between the age of 5 and 11. Girls under 5 or over 11 will also be catered for at the mainstream STFPSC sessions.”
Kelly Simmons, FA Participation and Development Director, said: “Since the launch of SSE Wildcats we have seen great enthusiasm from the girls taking part to continue learning and playing football. The centres have proved a huge success and we are pleased to be able to considerably grow the size of the initiative in 2018, offering a much higher percentage of girls across the country the opportunity to enjoy football in a safe and inspiring environment.”
For more information about the SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centre in Preston contact Kath Mason on 07730 570688. UCLan Sports Arena is based on Tom Benson Way, Cottam, Preston.