While women’s football, and women’s sport in general, has made great strides in recent years, there is still a great deal more to do before it achieves anything like parity with the men’s game. It will require thinking outside the box – bold and creative ideas. We Play Strong is just one of those.
Most imaginative ideas of this sort come from grassroots level or less mainstream organisations, so it is a rare pleasure to note We Play Strong is brought to you by UEFA, European football’s governing body.
It *is* cool for girls to play football
UEFA launched We Play Strong across all of their 55 member nations to coincide with the recent Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus. The campaign aims to show young girls how “cool it is to play football” (#WePlayStrong) and follows some in-depth research commissioned by UEFA and carried out by the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences. While the study focused on the positive impact football can have on a young girl’s life, it clearly demonstrates that participation in any sport can help young women navigate the sometimes difficult ages and stages of growing up.
The study identified three particular reasons that young girls fall away from sport in general, and football in particular. The first area was a loss of self-confidence which impacts on their participation in sport, as they felt it is deemed uncool for a girl to be involved in football. The second area identified was they felt there had to be a choice made between playing football and having fun with their girlfriends – it’s one, or the other – and so if they want to spend time with their friends, it is the football that has to go. The last area was the lack of strong role models as sport has very few, compared to, for example, the music scene – which is because women in sport are simply not branded in the same way.
Taking the future of women’s football into our own hands
The We Play Strong website is a portal for women footballers – a kind of one stop shop that fosters a sense of community and belonging. You can download practice tips, submit your footballing stories, and find ‘football near you’ by simply entering your postcode to discover the nearest facility for you to join in and play women’s football. It’s simple but effective and elicits a very real sense of inclusion.
Women’s football still struggles to gain genuine traction in the mainstream media, and We Play Strong aims to help circumvent that lack of mainstream support. We’ve seen in politics recently, with Bernie Sanders in the USA and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, how effectively creative and eye-catching use of social media can cut through. In a recent blog for KUDOS, Danielle Brown touched on this very same point when she said “If the traditional media streams don’t want to take part then let’s use social media as a tool to raise awareness”.
Join the squad
We Play Strong allows you to “join their squad” by uploading photos of yourself playing football which can be hosted on the site itself as well as downloaded for you to share on your own social media platforms. The site’s ‘social wall’ features an array of inspiring stories, each submitted by regular women’s footballers all around the world. The site can be displayed in a number of languages, broadening its reach, and among the ‘practice tips’ are PDF booklets geared towards different age groups and providing ideas and inspiration for creating your own training sessions.
We’d encourage all women’s football clubs and footballers to join the campaign online (using the hashtag #WePlayStrong), to share the website, add it to your favourites and use it to help to build awareness and support for women’s football. The future of the game is in your hands – let’s keep driving it forward and give the women’s game the platform it deserves.
KUDOS PASSIONATELY SUPPORTS WOMEN’S FOOTBALL
KUDOS is proud to encourage women and girls from all backgrounds and of all ages to take part in football. We recognise that sport is a powerful force for good.
KUDOS SPORTS – A LEADING SUPPLIER OF CUSTOM SPORTS KIT
KUDOS supplies custom kit to a range of women’s football clubs across the country – including Carnmoney Ladies FC. We supply custom teamwear that is built for performance and worn with pride.