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INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION: THE POWER OF WOMEN’S FOOTBALL

Euros fever has struck the nation after the Lionesses took home the European Championship on Sunday in a 2-1 defeat of eight-time winners Germany, making history as the county’s first major trophy since the men’s side won the World Cup in 1966. The Lionesses have set an example that we hope will inspire future generations of women and girls to play football, so we're taking a look at the opportunities available across south London for women and girls to play football with Palace for Life.

At Palace for Life, we are lucky enough to work with some of the best female coaches in the game. All coming from a range of backgrounds and experiences, the Foundation coaching staff have the skills and experience to breathe life into any session and inspire the next generation of budding female footballers to get involved, all across south London.

One of the most popular sessions at Palace for Life is Weetabix Wildcats. Wildcats football sessions are available to girls aged 5 to 11, giving them the opportunity to play football in a fun and safe environment. Wildcats is non-competitive and gives girls the chance to play football for the very first time and play with other girls their own age, have fun and make new friends.

Wildcats

Palace for Life is all about using the power of sport to help change the lives of young people for the better – these sessions aim to inspire young girls to engage with football, develop fundamental skills, learn new things and create the Foundation for a lifelong love of the game.

Once our young female players have got some football experience under their belt, they might consider one of our Girls-only Soccer Schools and Player Development Centres across south London. These are paid-for sessions during the school holidays, run by our highly qualified FA coaches, which can help develop their skills even further.

Palace Women midfielder Leigh Nicol even surprised participants at our Girls-Only Player Development Centre recently and spoke to them about her pathway into football.

Our expert coaches help develop the talent in young footballers with a dedicated Player Pathway, which gives the most talented the opportunity to join the Crystal Palace F.C. youth setup and other local teams.

Stand-out female footballers in school years five and six can join the pathway by attending a trial evening. To find out about these, parents can sign up for the holiday mailing list here. The next available dates are during the summer holidays and can be booked here.

For older players, Palace for Life also hosts Women’s Walking Football sessions which is a popular activity across south London. It’s a slow-paced version of the beautiful game, designed to help people keep an active lifestyle despite their age, as well as encourage those who used to play the sport to get back on the field. Three of our Women’s Walking footballers, Jules, Tania and Catherine recently secured their place in the England Women’s Walking football team, with Jules and Tania (pictured) both scoring in recent matches against The Republic of Ireland and Wales.

Tash Stephens is Head of Fundraising & Communications at Palace for Life and has been playing football since she was 9 years old. She now plays in the Women’s National League for Crawley Wasps. She said:

“The women’s game has grown massively since I started playing when I was young, so I’m really proud to be part of an organisation that has advocated for women’s football for so long. Our Foundation coaches are incredible role models for the younger girls who may be playing football for the first time, and are crucial in ensuring that everybody, regardless of who they are, has the opportunity to access and play football in a safe and fun environment.”

For those who are seeking regular football sessions around south London, free Premier League Kicks sessions are available in a girls-only format. These weekly football sessions give young girls aged 8 to 18 the chance to get together for a kickabout on a weekly basis, have fun and make loads of new friends, safely in the city. Kicks is primarily funded by the Premier League, and additional funds have been donated from the London Marathon Charitable Fund to help put on additional Girls-Only Kicks sessions.

Since Palace for Life began running these sessions in the 2006/2007 season, 8.849 young people have participated in Kicks sessions, and over 12,500 hours of free activity have been delivered to support young people across south London.

For more information on Women and Girls football, please click here.

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