Uefa launches drive to boost girls’ football participation in Europe

Uefa will launch its biggest-ever marketing campaign next month with the aim of making football the No1 participation sport for girls and women in Europe by 2022.

The campaign, “Together #WePlayStrong”, will be launched on 1 June before this summer’s European Championship in the Netherlands, and follows research that shows football can have a positive impact on self-confidence in teenage girls.

The study, conducted by Uefa and an elite group of specialists, looked at the effect football has on the psychological and emotional state of girls and young women in Europe, taking into account the impact that football has on self-confidence, self-esteem, wellbeing, feelings of togetherness, motivation and life skills, and compared those results to other popular sports. Data was collected from six countries: – Denmark, England, Germany, Spain, Poland and Turkey – and involved more than 4,000 players aged 13 and over.

The results showed that 80% of teenage girls exhibited more confident behaviour thanks to playing with a football team versus 74% of those who played other sports and that 58% of the 13–17 year-old female footballers questioned said they had overcome a lack of self-confidence as a result of playing football. Forty-eight per cent said they are less self-conscious as a result of playing football.

Uefa’s women’s football adviser, Nadine Kessler, said: “This study shows that girls who play football have greater self-confidence than those who don’t play the game. Drawing upon my own experience, I can’t emphasise enough how important this is when you are growing up.”

In March the FA revealed its new strategy for women’s and girls’ football with the three main targets being to double participation, double the number of fans and enable consistent success on the world stage, all by 2020. To increase participation the FA said it will develop “Wildcats” – a new network of 200 girls’ football clubs that will provide local, safe and girl-friendly football programmes.

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