If you are ever in Bushy Park on a winter’s Sunday morning you will undoubtedly come across fast, skilful football being played by teams in red and blue strips. The bouncy and enthusiastic girls are players for Teddington Athletic Football Club who have more than 150 girls playing football in 11 teams from Under 8s to Under 16s in the Surrey County Women and Girls Football League. Over the last few years organised girls’ football has seen a significant rise in participation in the UK with girls’ football being the top participating sport for women and girls.
Teddington Athletic Football Club runs Boys, Girls and Adult teams. One of the Teddington Athletic FC Girls Teams the U11s Diamonds were invited to play in a Football Festival at Chelsea’s Training Ground on Sunday 8th March. The event was organised in collaboration with St Mary’s University, Surrey County Women and Girls Football League and Chelsea FC Foundation. The event saw eight teams who participate in the Surrey County Women and Girls Football League invited to play in the festival to celebrate International Women’s Day 2020. The games took place on Chelsea FC Academy’s field turf pitch, in the shadow of both the football club’s men’s and women’s training facilities. The event attracted over 100 girls and 300 spectators. Ex Chelsea and England International, Katie Chapman, as well as Chelsea FC Girls Under 18 team was also in attendance talking with the girls and watching them play.
Michael Ayres, a qualified and licensed FA Coach and head coach for Teddington Athletic FC U11 Diamonds Girls Team, says: ‘This was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to visit and play at a world class performance venue. It is also
recognition for the hard work being undertaken by Teddington Athletic FC who do a brilliant job attracting young girls to play football in a safe and challenging environment and enjoy the brand- new clubhouse in Bushy Park. The girls were so excited to play.’
Michael Ayres, a part time member of staff at the world renowned Chelsea FC Academy, is also Senior Lecturer on the Chelsea FC Coaching and Development Degree programme. The degree programme is a collaboration between St Mary’s University and Chelsea FC Foundation. The programme makes a significant contribution to the local community by providing volunteer football coaches for local girl’s teams and also organising events and symposium to both raise awareness of and celebrate various areas within the football industry.
One of the aforementioned symposiums (St Mary’s University) celebrated International Women’s Day with a symposium on Women in Football. ‘Over 250 people attended the event including local residents, coaches from local teams and local school pupils interested
in pursuing a career in football,’ said Michael Ayres. Guest speakers came from the football industry and included women who have made significant contributions to the rise in participation in community and professional football. The symposium took place on Monday 9th March in the 300 seater auditorium at Twickenham Exchange between 6-9pm. It consisted of eight x eight minute, presentations with speaker and audience interaction.
Michael Ayres says, ‘Although women and girls football has come a long way in recent years with significant changes in people’s attitudes towards the sport there is still much more to do to ensure that this positive momentum and upward trend is not lost.’
Article by Michael Ayres, Head Coach, Teddington Athletic FC U11’s Diamonds,
Photograph – Teddington Athletic FC U11 Diamonds Girls Team – courtesy of Teddington Athletic FC/Michael Ayres