Sunderland stars kick-off Girls' Football Week on Wearside
Sunderland players Beth Mead and Rachael Laws were at Sunderland College to mark the start of the FA Girls’ Football Week.
More than 100 students took part in a football session attended by the pair.
They are among more than 60,000 women and girls nationwide who have registered to take part in football sessions this week.
Beth, who joined Sunderland in 2011 and averages about a goal a game, said: “It was really good to see the girls playing and everyone getting involved.
“There was a great turnout and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
“We did a skills session and there was a speed gauge there, so people could see how hard they can kick the ball.
“The interest in this just further showed that women’s football is on the up and more people are getting involved in it. It’s really good to see.”
FA Girls’ Football Week was created to encourage more women and girls to play football, by asking schools, clubs, community groups and wider organisations to put on football sessions.
Next week, additional focus will be on encouraging higher and further educational establishments to put on sessions throughout the year.
Beth added: “I think it’s a really good opportunity for girls to get involved and know they can play in what is a male-orientated sport.
“They can be supported at the same time by players and coaches, and it can be a full-time profession now.
“The sport can always keep developing.
“It’s not as big as the mens’ game so you can always continue to grow.
“It’s heading in the right direction and long may that continue.”
The girls were wished good luck ahead of the week by former Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson, who is now captain of Liverpool and a regular for England.
He said: “Well done to everyone who’s taking part in the FA Girls’ Football Week, especially those at Sunderland who are kicking it all off.
“I hope you enjoy it and have a good week.”
More information is available at www.thefa.com/news/fawsl/2016/oct/fa-girls-football-week-reaches-over-100k