Local Youth Club Goes for Gold by Nikita Savier

Following the success of England’s Lionesses at the Euros in 2022, women’s football has taken off meteorically and this has significantly impacted the popularity of the game amongst young women. However, one aspect of the women’s team was noticeably different from the men’s game, and this was the lack of diversity. This is an aspect of the game that organisation Frenford Clubs (the Jack Carter Centre) is helping to change.

Frenford is a hub of community spirit, where people of all backgrounds are welcome to play sports, regardless of age or ability. One member of the girl’s football team stated that, “Attending football sessions at Frenford has allowed me to socialise, make new friends and improve my skills, whilst helping me to keep fit and healthy.” The opportunity to play competitively in a 5-a-side league is available to all players attending training, which provides a target to work towards in training and motivates players. Inclusivity underlies the exemplary provision at Frenford, enabling the maximum number of people to take part in the sports, not only limited to football, on offer there. Participants are not only limited to under 18s, with the age range of those attending activities at Frenford being relatively broad. Both men and women are welcome at the club, but to ensure this does not restrict the participation of the immediately surrounding community for cultural reasons, women only training sessions are held. This effort to achieve maximum inclusivity is a defining characteristic of Frenford making it a warm, inviting and hospitable place for everyone. Commitment is encouraged but there is complete understanding from the management team, session leaders and coaches of the fact that personal situations do not always facilitate this. The unfaltering hospitality and encouragement from the coaches creates a calm motivating environment where players can relax, feeling part of a community without being subject to unnecessary pressures.

Hopefully endeavours like this will succeed in diversifying the sport so that the women’s game may start to mirror the diversity seen in the men’s.