Thursday, 5 April 2007

The rise and rise of girls football

After delivering leaflets and various meetings during the day, I spent an extremely pleasant evening on the sidelines of several astro turf pitches watching more than 50 girls from Meridian Girls FC at football training.

Girls football is massive in the constituency - there are clubs for all ages in practically every village - and the clubs, like Meridian, have had to overcome big political issues ranging from booking pitches to ensuring the availability of toilet facilities which most boys clubs have not had to deal with.

It is sad that girls clubs still have so many more hurdles to jump before they can get up and running. The support from external organisations is still not particularly forthcoming which is a great shame because football is not just about sport - it keeps girls fit and healthy and off the streets; and it teaches some valuable lessons in life such as how to work in a team, other people are better than you, and you will sometimes lose.

I was very impressed with what I saw. The talent of girls of all age groups was mixed, and that is something the club encourages, but ultimately all were having great fun. It is lovely to see little under 8s running around kicking a ball and then suddenly doing a little cartwheel just to remind you that you are in fact watching little girls!

I came away slightly envious at the facilities available to girls today - I learnt my football on the streets and wasn't allowed to play competitively until University. But most of all I came away confident that some of the girls I saw training will end up playing at the highest level and eager to support this and other clubs around the constituency as best as I can.

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