||Women's football has been played in England for over 100 years. The first match recorded was held between a northern and southern team on March 23rd 1895. The north won the game 7-1.
The first international game was held between two women’s teams in 1920. Dick Kerr’s Ladies (a Preston-based team) invited a women’s French representative team to play a series of games for charity. A crowd of 25,000 saw Dick Kerr’s Ladies win 2-0.
Boxing Day of that year saw the biggest ever crowd recorded for a women’s game in England when 53,000 people packed Everton's Goodison Park to watch Dick Kerr’s Ladies beat their closest rivals, St Helen’s Ladies, 4-0.
The year after The Football Association banned women from playing on Football League grounds. Although there were discrepancies to be found in the accounts, the main reason was that: "Complaints have been made as to football being played by women, the council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged." Though the game continued there was a great decrease in interest."
In November of 1969 The Women’s Football Association was formed with 44 member clubs and 2 years later The FA Council lifted the ban which forbade women playing on the grounds of affiliated clubs. In the same year in the final of the inaugural W.F.A. Cup, southampton beat Stewarton and Thistle 4-1 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, London.
In November of 1972 the first official women’s international in Britain was played at Greenock. England beat Scotland 3-2. The first goal was scored by Sylvia Gore of Liverpool. 1983 saw The F.A. invite the W.F.A. to affiliate on the same basis as County Football Associations. The W.F.A. launched a national league in 1991. The league began with 24 clubs.
|When women's football at last began to grow on a universal scale the pioneers were Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The Swedes won the first European Championships, in 1984, but it was Germany who came to dominate the competition - they have now won it five times, most recently on home soil in the summer of 2001.
The Football Association illustrated its commitment to the female game in 1993 by establishing a Women’s Football Committee and the post of Women’s Football Coordinator. The Committee’s duties include dealing with all matters relating to the development and administration of female football. The Coordinator has the task of overseeing the development of girl’s and women’s football. At the same time, women’s football was assimilated into existing FA departments, offering the women’s game access to tremendous resources and expertise.
The W.F.A. National Cup competition was also brought under the control of The F.A. for the 1993/94 season and became the F.A. Challenge Cup. One hundred and thirty-seven teams entered. The following season The Football Association assumed responsibility for the organisation and the administration of the Women’s National League and League Cup competition. The league changed its name to the Football Association Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) and consisted of 30 teams, 10 in each division.
With the FA taking over the game, women's football received a major boost in terms of access to funding and resources. In 1993, there were just 11,200 registered players - today that figure stands at over 61,000!
The fivefold increase has seen football become the No.1 female sport, taking over from traditional favourites netball and hockey.
In 1997 The F.A. Talent Development Plan for Girls’ and Women’s Football was launched outlining plans to develop the women’s game from grassroots to elite level. On the Ball magazine is also launched – the first English magazine on women’s football.
In 1998 the first 20 Centre of Excellence for girls are established. AXA announced the first ever sponsorship of the FAWPL and two national cup competitions. Nationwide announced as first ever sponsor of the three women’s international sides.
June 1998 and Hope Powell is appointed as the first ever full-time coach for the Women’s international sides (senior, Under-18 and Under-16). In October of the same year The F.A. hosts the UEFA conference on Women and Football.
In 1999 The F.A. launches its commitment for women’s football to be the top female sport in England in 5 years time. Also in June/July of the same year the USA hosts the Women’s World Cup which sees sell out stadia and over 90,000 at the final. Members of the victorious US team become household names.
Women’s football is the fastest growing sport in the country, and The Football Association is committed to making it the top female sport in England in the next five years.
Since 1993, when The Football Association took over the running of the women’s game, women’s football has seen unprecedented growth, and there are now more than 1,000 girls’ teams and 700 women’s teams around the country. This growth shows no sign in slowing down; quite the reverse, in fact.
Through an infrastructure that encompasses women’s football from the grassroots level to the international arena, The F.A. is working harder than ever to sustain this boom and encourage greater numbers to take up the sport. If you wish to be part of the country’s fastest growing sport, ring the F.A. Women’s football hotline on 0845 310 8555 for information on teams in your local area.
FA Top Soprt Football and Soccability is a partnership between The Football Association and the Youth Sport Trust to offer 7-11 year olds (girls and boys) appropriate footballing opportunities as part of the school Physical Education programme and a club's community programme.
It was launched by Arsenal's England striker Angie Banks and West Ham goalkeeper Stephen Bywater in July 2001 and was implemented in schools across England from September onwards.
£6 million is being invested over three years and it is expected to have a dramtaic impact on the quality of football activites in this age group. The programme will provide free football equipment, curriculum resources and teacher training for every primary and special needs school in England - that's around 16,000 schools. The pack includes goals, balls and coaching support, for both boys and girls.
girls football is one of nine key sports being given special funding and focus by Sport England's five-year development programme 'Active Sports'. In conjunction with the FA and lottery funding, £8 million is being ploughed into developing the game across the country over the next five years, with County FA partnerships delivering training courses for girls to get involved in playing football.
Once girls have been introduced to the sport, the next stage for them is to join a club where they have access to structured coaching to learn skills and competitive play.
The next stage is Active Sports Regional Talent Camps launched in April 2002. Girls who attend Centres of Excellence are invited to these Camps throughout England for Hope Powell and her team of scouts to monitor their progress. The two age groups, under-14 and under-16, are assessed and the best girls will be brought into the international set-up.
In 1997 the FA launched its Talent Development Plan for Women's Football to provide a sound structure for the development of elite players. A key aspect of this plan was the establishment of female Centres of Excellence. The purpose of these is to identify players of outstanding ability and place them in a technical and educational programme designed to produce excellence.
There are currently 42 licensed Centres of Excellence, with Brighton & Hove Albion Girls Centre of Excellence being one of them. These Centres provide girls aged 10-16 years with specialised coaching for a minimum of 1½ hours a week. A programme of fixtures for the Girls Centres of Excellence League is currently operating in the South-East. The season culminates at the annual Centres of Excellence festival at Warwick University in May, where every Centre enters their age groups in a friendly tournament.