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Equal Access To Girls’ Football Festival

Following the impact of the pandemic, three high schools within the Seckford Education Trust wanted to create an event which aimed to engage more young females playing football.

In line with the Football Association and Barclay’s ‘biggest ever football session for girls’ (a national campaign), SET Ixworth School hosted just under 100 young females from their trust schools including SET Beccles and Saxmundham school. By 2024, The FA’s and Barclays ambition is for girls to have the same football opportunities as boys in schools and clubs. #LetGirlsPlay is a campaign to drive influence and change perceptions, showing that football can and should be played by girls. It is bringing together a growing community of people of all genders, ages and backgrounds who want to champion equal access for girls, helping create independent, resilient young girls who will be a force for good in all local communities.

The event held at SET Ixworth School was focused on female students having equal access to a sport which is too often directed towards males, and had two distinctive outcomes; Have fun and get active!

Students from all three schools were selected specifically for the opportunity – which wanted to involve students who had no, or very little previous experiences of playing Football, and young people selected by school staff aiming to see a positive impact from being more active.

The event was also support by Suffolk FA, and was attended by Kirsty Smith – who is actively trying to create more inclusive Football provisions across the county.

Quote from Mr D Burton (Lead practitioner – PE): “As a group of small, rural schools, we were keen to connect to create a unique opportunity and take our young female students outside of their comfort zone. All 3 of the SET secondary schools are developing provisions to allow females equal access to football – and this project was a great way to launch our work”.

Quote from Kirsty Smith (Suffolk FA): “It was great to see the girls turn up and throw themselves into something that they haven’t done before. They all worked together & mixed with other students from other schools. Events like this are brilliant for students to take part in as they encompass physical activity, fun & social skills. It was great to be part of such an event and give the students the opportunity to do things they haven’t done before”.

Quote from Mark Barrow (CEO, Seckford Education Trust): “As a Trust, we were keen to create an opportunity for students within any one of our schools to feel part of something ‘bigger’, this festival reinforced the collaboration between our schools, teachers, and more our importantly students.”

Quote from one of the students: “When I knew we were going to be playing Football, I didn’t really want to go – but my teacher asked me to give it a try . . . I am so glad I did, I have had lots of fun, met some people from other schools, and enjoyed a day outside. I think I also got better at football!”

The event was also supported by a group of student leaders – many of which had no previous experience of leading large groups of young people.