Football

Pupils dismiss "rubbish" FA document on girls' football

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The FA has been criticised for a document designed to encourage girls to play football

Image credit: PA Sport

ByPA Sport
12/12/2016 at 14:07 | Updated 12/12/2016 at 14:10

Primary school pupils have criticised a Football Association document which suggests girls could be encouraged into football by using bibs that "smell nice", having breaks so players can tweet and playing music during sessions.

Primary school pupils have criticised a Football Association document which suggests girls could be encouraged into football by using bibs that "smell nice", having breaks so players can tweet and playing music during sessions.

Children at Lumley Junior School near Chester-le-Street, County Durham, did not believe the "Considerations for increasing participation in women and girls' football" paper was real when they read it during lessons about gender equality.

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Among the advice were tips such as offering stamps and prizes for players to keep attending sessions, allowing girls to wear casual clothing and using colourful bibs - but "make sure they are clean and smell nice".

The document also suggested some beginners might be put off by being hit by a heavy ball, so coaches should consider using smaller ones.

Girls should be allowed to play music during football sessions, the paper suggested, and their games should be indoors in the winter.

One tip which particularly angered the Lumley pupils was: "Allow girls the time to check their phones within a session or incorporate a Twitter break so participants can tweet about the session".

The year five and six pupils were encouraged to respond to the FA as part of a writing project and Nancy, aged 10, gave the governing body both barrels.

She wrote: "I am absolutely astonished that you have the nerve to write all of that absolute rubbish about women and girls playing football.

"I am a girl myself, I like playing football and your 'Considerations for increasing participation in women and girls' football' is totally wrong!"

She added: "We will not go to your training sessions just because you give us stamps!"

And her letter told FA chief executive Martin Glenn in no uncertain terms that girls do not need to constantly update social media.

"Your tone of voice sounds as though you think we are brainless baby Barbies!"

Fellow year 6 pupil Grace wrote: "We are not fussy about the smell of our bibs - would you be?

"And we are not afraid to get hit by a ball so why would we need light ones; in case we break a nail?"

Amy, who loves the game and plays for the school and a team in Washington, said: "I didn't think it was real.

"I thought none of this would be said for boys' football. Some of the content was unbelievable."

Deputy head Carol Hughes said the pupils, girls and boys, were struck by the implied sexism of the document.

"We kept thinking, what would they write for boys?" she said.

The school runs a girls' football team and children of both sexes play keenly-fought games during lunchtime.

The document was produced with feedback from women and girls who play football and those who do not.

An FA spokesman said: "The FA is committed to doubling female football participation by 2020 and to growing the women's game at all levels, from elite to grassroots.

"The document is aimed at engaging young women who don't currently play football.

"It was created following research into women and girls playing football, with feedback from both participants and non-participants, and encourages a creative approach to increasing participation numbers.

"We're very pleased to see how many girls at the school play football and the passion for the game that they clearly have."

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