Eni Aluko, who plays for Chelsea and England, visited one of these sessions and was impressed by what she saw. “It’s great to see so many girls playing week in, week out, training and developing themselves. And I think that the future for women’s football is bright.”
Megan is a Development Officer for the Premier League Girls Football project at Chelsea.
“The best thing about coaching young girls is that they’ve got such a love of the game. If we capture it early, we can continue that as they get older – whether it be playing or coaching. It’s an opportunity for us to grasp them as individuals and let them develop. They are a team as players but at the same time they each bring something totally different. Women’s football has increased dramatically but it’s so important that we continue to provide them with these opportunities.”
Chelsea Foundation is one of 36 clubs running regular Premier League Girls football sessions, with 17,000 girls taking part up and down the country in the last year. With early teenage years being a key time that girls often drop out of sport altogether, the focus is on regular sessions that help develop a passion for sport and a lifetime of getting involved.
Facilities are an important part of what we do to help provide opportunities to get involved. Southfields Academy in South London is just one example of a Premier League-funded pitch that is making a huge difference to the community.
Southfields has hosted regular Chelsea community sessions. The modern facility has allowed the school to become a sports hub and now the pitch is used by thousands of young people from the local community.
Crystal Palace Manager Alan Pardew, a former pupil of the school, went back to Southfields Academy as part of the Premier League 2015/16 season launch. “The facilities have improved and it brings back some nice memories” Pardew said. “This particular area used to be covered in Tarmac and this was where we used to have our lunchtime kickabout, so I learnt a lot of my trade here – instead of how to be tough and how to win. To have this facility now is brilliant because this school is multicultural and it is sport that bonds it together.”