Tuesday 12 July 2022, 06:30

FIFA funded festivals give girls first taste of football in Wales

More than 500 young female footballers enjoyed a series of Huddle Unite festivals, held across Wales in the last two weeks. The festivals were funded by FIFA, through one of the eight FIFA Women's Football Development programmes. Primary Schools girls aged 5-11 in Anglesey, Gwynedd, Flintshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wrexham and Denbighshire got the chance to enjoy learning basic football and fundamental movement skills together.

Born in September 2019, Huddle aims to introduce girls aged between four and 11 to football in a fun, relaxed, sociable and friendly way to ensure they have a positive first experience of football. Huddle is delivered by clubs and partners across Wales who want to grow the number of girls playing football in their local area. Girls can expect to make new friends, learn some football skills through fun games and build their confidence throughout the sessions. If girls want to progress onto a club team, the coaches at the sessions can direct them to their nearest team, but for those that are happy playing in Huddle sessions, they’re welcome to just play there.

Huddle Unite Festival at Plas Arthur Leisure Centre, Llangefni, Angelsey

Over 6,000 girls have enjoyed coming to Huddle sessions all across Wales since 2019. Most who had never played club football before. FAW Football Development Manager Bethan Wooley said: “It has been amazing to see so many girls enjoying football for the very first time this week. I’m so jealous of the opportunities the girls have across Wales now to get involved in football! It’s been incredible to be a part of these amazing festivals, and see how the game goes from strength to strength.”

Key objectives

FIFA will achieve its objectives by executing a five-pronged strategy to:

Govern & lead … strive for gender balance

Every MA will have one spot on its Executive Committee dedicated to the interests of women and by 2026 have at least one woman seated, while by 2022, at least one-third of FIFA committee members will be women. Strengthen and expand the Female Leadership Development Programme and improve professionalisation and regulatory oversight.

Educate and empower

Address and bring focus to specific social and health issues and reach out to NGOs and government stakeholders to develop sustainable projects that improve the lives of women.

Develop and grow … on and off the pitch

By 2022, have women’s football strategies in 100% of member associations, and by 2026, double the number of MAs with organised youth leagues. Expand football in school programmes, create elite academies and increase the number of qualified coaches and referees, vastly improving access to the game for girls.

Showcase the game … improve women’s competitions

Optimise regional qualifying for FIFA competitions and develop those events to build top-level players at a young age. Advance and launch new international competitions and improve the professional club framework.

Communicate & commercialise … broaden exposure & value

Advance awareness of top female athletes and raise the profile of women’s football by enhancing engagement, harnessing technology, implementing a distinct brand strategy and using role models and ambassadors as well as a dedicated Women’s Legends Programme. By 2026, launch a Women’s Football Commercial Programme.