featured, Girls' Football, Schools' Football Week

The ESFA’s mission to create equal opportunities in girls’ football continues

The English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA), has been providing opportunities designed specifically for the development of girls’ football, since 1996 and this International Women’s Day, the ESFA shares how they continue to progress their mission of creating equality within the girls’ game.

For over 20 years, the ESFA has provided some of the best and most wide-ranging opportunities for school girls in England and continues to push further opportunities in the 22/23 season and beyond. As the National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England, it is a high priority of the Association to ensure that activity is available and accessible for all children, across the country. At the start of the current season, girls’ National Schools’ Cup entries had reached a record number, with 1,933 girls’ teams in competitions, equating to around 30,000 individual players taking part.

In September 2022, after seeing this record breaking number for the third consecutive season, the ESFA consulted secondary schools that had entered National Cup competitions for girls in 22/23. With the ongoing buzz from the Women’s EUROs and yet more teams taking part in ESFA competitions, the Association was keen to investigate whether schools wanted new routes into National Cup competitions for girls, with a view to further broadening the scope and availability for girls to play in competitive schools’ cup fixtures.

The outcome of this consultation was the addition of six new national inter-school competitions for girls, beginning in January 2023 and running until June 2023. These additional six competitions attracted a further 485 entries to the season total, equating to approximately 7,200 more girls taking part across England.

Brand new opportunities in Schools’ Football for Girls

The ESFA’s new competitions for girls have been introduced at the U13 and U15 age groups (covering years 7 – 10), offering new opportunities for teams across three categories of competitions –

  • Small Schools’ Cup
  • B Teams’ Cup
  • ‘New Teams’ Cup

These additional competitions all contribute to the development of the girls’ game in schools and will give new players the opportunity to play competitively in National Cup competitions, against other teams that are in similar playing circumstances to them. This consultation process with schools allowed the ESFA to consider what further steps it could take to try and match opportunities for girls in National Cup competitions to those offered to boys. The positive uptake means that the Association can now look at ways to consolidate these opportunities into the ESFA’s annual competition offering.

More to come

Following the success of Schools’ Football Week 2023, in partnership with Pro:Direct Sport, the ESFA and Pro:Direct are working hard to continue to encourage more girls’ activity for schools. The Partnership will provide a proactive platform to actively engage and inspire schools, teachers, coaches and players to experience more football for girls.

Millie Lake from Pro:Direct said: “We’re really excited to continue our partnership with The ESFA, especially after the record breaking numbers of girls who took part in Schools’ Football Week in February. Giving schools the support and opportunity to equally embrace football for girls and boys is something we’re extremely passionate about. The Schools’ Football Week initiative, along with our continued work with The ESFA, gives us the perfect platform to build upon our mutual ambition, to get more kids, of all ages and both genders, playing and enjoying football.

Girls’ Football Stats – 2022/23

  • Over 120,000 girls taking part in National Cup activity (secondary age only) through the ESFA’s competition offer
  • Over 108,000 girls took part in Schools’ Football Week activity in February 2023
  • Over 8,000 girls’ football teams entered into National Cup competitions in 22/23
featured, Schools' Football Week

Winner announced for the Women’s Football Magazine and English Schools’ FA ‘Design a Front Page’ Competition

Today, the Women’s Football Magazine (TWFM) and English Schools FA (ESFA) are excited to announce the winner and runners-up from their ‘Design a Front Page’ competition. The competition, run in association with Schools’ Football Week, challenged school children to design the front cover of TWFM’s April print magazine focusing on the next generation of women’s footballers in the UK.

Over 100 entries were received from more than 21 schools and a panel of judges from TWFM and the ESFA were hard pressed to choose a winning entry. We are delighted to announce that Indie from Grey Court school is the winner of the competition and her artwork will become the front cover of the TWFM printed edition in April. As well as receiving a copy of the magazine featuring her artwork and an annual digital subscription to TWFM, Indie, aged 14, has also won a TWFM ‘season ticket’ for Grey Court which will give 25 annual digital subscriptions to be shared with teachers, parents, pupils and supporters.

We are also excited to reveal that due to the high standard of entries, five runners-up are also being rewarded. All runners up will receive a copy of the April magazine and a TWFM annual individual digital subscription.

The five runners-up, whose artwork will also feature in the April Magazine, are:

  • Florence, age 11 – Aughton Town Green Primary
  • Isabella, age 14 – Outwood Valley Academy
  • Isla, age 11 – St. Veronicas
  • Simrah, age 11 – Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary School
  • Sophie , age 8 – Stormont School

Helen Rowe-Willcocks, editor of TWFM said: “We were delighted by the number and quality of the entries we received from all age groups. It certainly made judging very difficult. Seeing the love for women’s football grow amongst the young generations is fantastic and with initiatives like Schools’ Football Week, it will continue to strengthen.”

Stuart Botham, ESFA Chair said, “On behalf of the English Schools’ FA (ESFA), I was delighted that we were asked to support The Women’s Football Magazine with their ‘design a front page competition, launched during Schools’ Football Week 2023. As the National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England, the continual growth and promotion of the girls’ game is a high priority for us, which is why we are keen to support the work carried out by TWFM. This competition was a great fit for the Association, as we work to encourage football to be brought into the classroom, creating inclusivity for all children that are interested in the sport to participate in a way that works for them. The entries received were of superb quality and the participants didn’t make the judging process easy. I would like to thank all those schools that supported this activity and also congratulate all those pupils that submitted their entries for this competition. I very much look forward to seeing the final article in April.”