Girls in South Tyneside are being given the chance to get their kicks as new football sessions are rolled out.
Youngsters aged between five and 11 will be able to take advantage of the sessions, which will begin at South Shields FC’s Mariners Park next month.
It is part of the SSE Wildcats football initiative, with girls across the country offered a safe environment to try the sport for the first time.
South Shields FC will host one session a week on the 3G pitch at Mariners Park, with the club to subsidise the cost of them to ensure they are accessible to all.
The club’s head of youth development, Jamie Williams, said: “As a community football club, we want to make our work representative of the needs of the local community and currently we provide some excellent playing and learning experiences for children of all ages, but the majority of our programmes are being accessed by boys.
“We have a thriving ladies section within the club, with up to 40 female players aged 16+ representing the club every week. We want to now make a concerted effort to increase the quality of provision available to local young girls currently at primary school.
“We will be organising and delivering weekly sessions that are specifically for girls, something that the majority of five to 11-year-old girls prefer according to research.”
The initiative is also partly led by the Football Association as part of its gameplan for growth, which has a target of doubling girls’ participation in the sport by 2020.
More than 200 clubs piloted the initiative in England last year, and the scheme is now being extended to more than 900 centres, with 26,000 participants across the country.
The sessions at Mariners Park will take every Friday from 5pm, and will be led by highly-qualified male and female club staff and volunteers. To take part, it will cost £1 per week to take part in the 16-week programme.
The FA’s participation and development director, Kelly Simmons, said: “Since the launch of SSE Wildcats, we have seen great enthusiasm from the girls taking part.”
He added: “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.”
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