As the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off on July 20, BERKHAMSTEDnews spoke to Berkhamsted Raiders Community Football Club’s chair of trustees Chris Armond on the increased interest in the sport amongst girls…
What is the current state of girls’ grassroots football?
We are seeing growing interest in girls playing football at a younger age. They are also staying in football for longer, with a pathway to continue playing up to Under 18 and beyond. At our most recent tournament, we had 30 per cent more girls’ teams taking part, which is a testament to increasing participation levels. This year, we are looking at running our first Under 7 girls’ team.
How do you envisage a strong World Cup campaign would impact girls starting out in the sport?
I would imagine that we will see another boost after the World Cup. The success of the Euros created a new generation of role models that inspire girls to want to play football and develop their skills. We have seen increasing numbers of our girls getting opportunities to move into academies for the likes of Watford and Tottenham Hotspur.
In your experience, do you believe there is a lingering prejudice against women’s football?
Women’s football has seen an explosion in interest for spectators and we have sent increasing numbers of our members to Women’s FA Cup and England matches. Whilst I don’t believe there is any prejudice against women’s football in general, we do see some lingering prejudices for our female volunteers that get involved in managing our youth football teams.
How accessible is the pathway into senior football?
Within Raiders, we have a women’s football team that trains on Friday evenings and they have started playing matches against other local teams. We are also working with Berkhamsted FC and their proposed new women’s football team to ensure there are proper pathways for women to continue playing football whatever their level.