The passion for girls’ football is only set to rise following the Lionesses’ victory at the Euros and a more elevated profile of female players in the media. This Schools’ Football Week, which runs from Monday 6 February to Sunday 12 February, schools across the country are embracing school-level football and the wellbeing benefits it provides to both pupils and players.
Football is a sport that pupils and staff alike are passionate about at Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust (BCCET) which looks after 30 primary and secondary schools in East Durham, South Tyneside and Sunderland – and girls’ football is firmly on the agenda to increase engagement and success in the sport.
St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Hebburn is just one of the Trust’s schools keen to promote and develop girls’ football.
James Burns, curriculum leader of PE at St Joseph’s, said: “St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy has, for a very long time now, been enthusiastic about promoting and developing girls’ football. The number of girls involved in school teams grows every year, to a point now where we have upwards of 70 students involved in competitive inter-school games. All students play for a local club, with some students playing for Academies at Sunderland or Durham. In addition, we have five students playing at a county level too. We see a great deal of success in sport, and girls’ football is no different.”
The girls have won titles across the age groups in the local South Tyneside CVL and Futsal, Tyne & Wear School Games finals, County Cup and EFL Cup.
“Our widely reported national title gained us great recognition and helped us to continue promoting the talent of students who play for the school,” added Mr Burns.
This term, the school is continuing in its pursuit to provide opportunities for as many students to play. The team is currently top and third in the Y7 South Tyneside CVL, with the Y8 team second. The Year 9, 10 and 11 futsal squads have all been crowned South Tyneside champions and will progress to the County Finals. The U13, U14 and U16 teams are in the Durham County Cups, with convincing wins against their opposition to date.
Their entry into the ESFA (English Schools Football Association) National Cup has shown some very impressive score lines, with the U15s still in the competition at Round 5 – the final 32 from 386 teams.
The Year 8 and 9 girls’ football team at St Wilfrid’s RC College in South Shields, which is also part of BCCET, is also proving a team to beat this season.
They have worked extremely hard this year and have qualified for the county finals. They are unbeaten in the 10 matches they have played so far, celebrating victory on eight occasions.
“Our contribution to girls’ football doesn’t end there,” said Mr Burns.
“We feel it is important to encourage girls into other areas of the sport and therefore look for opportunities for them to officiate and coach where possible. We currently have students who have completed their refereeing course and have used this to officiate games for school. Additionally, we have students who are part of the FA Girls Game of Our Own programme, taking their first steps into coaching. We are also proud to say that we have the girls football ambassador for South Tyneside in our Y10 squad!”
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