Sunderland College gets FA backing for new women's football project

Sunderland College has been given backing by the Football Association to kick-off a scheme aimed at getting more women onto the pitch.

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 9:11 am
Abbie Waites (centre) is aiming to get more women into football.

The college has been chosen to run a national pilot which will see 12 women and girls football apprentices appointed by specially selected colleges across the country.

Their role will be to encourage hundreds of women to take-up football related activities in the next year.

Abbie Waites (centre) is aiming to get more women into football.

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Seventeen-year-old Abbie Waites has been appointed by the college to spearhead its involvement in the FA and Association of Colleges (AoC) Sport funded scheme.

Alongside the college’s sport apprentice Carly Sinclair she has trained at St George’s Park National Football Centre, the FA’s £105million facility.

Abbie, who has been playing football since she was six, said: “I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to work at the college with the aim of getting women and girls involved in football, which is such a big part of my life.”

Activities such as soccercise, bubble football, UV football and five-a-side will be organised to promote football to women of all ages, and Abbie will be responsible for recruiting participants from the community and the college to engage in the programme.

Abbie Waites (centre) is aiming to get more women into football.

For the scheme to be classed a success, the college must ensure at least 100 women try out the taster sessions and take up football as a result.

Lucy Oliver, the college’s sports development officer who will be overseeing the programme, said: “We are the only college in the region to be running this pilot scheme, so it’s very exciting we’ve been given this opportunity to be at the forefront of encouraging girls and women to take part in sport.

“The profile of ladies football has seen a massive rise in recent years, but we still need to do more to attract girls into the game.

“The FA has set a target of doubling female participation in football by 2020 and I believe that we can play an instrumental part in this at Sunderland College.”

Linking in to the apprenticeship scheme, the college is also putting the final touches to its brand new women and girls football leadership programme.

Two students have just returned from a training session at Wembley Stadium after they were appointed as English Colleges Football Association (ECFA) Activators, as part of the new FE Football Activator programme.

Lucy added: “We aim to recruit 15 girls who will be given leadership training so they can help promote football to their female peers through our work in the community.

“All of these programmes link together and our overarching goal is to give women and girls the confidence to take up new sports.”

Sunderland College was appointed by the FA as a Tier One Football Hub in September and is partnering with Durham FA to help the organisation launch its Women and Girls Football Development Group.

To get involved in the football pilot, email Lucy Oliver at [email protected] or call 511 6000 extension 05195.