This summer is perhaps best remembered for England’s historic Women’s Euros 2022 win, the first major trophy for an England side in 66 years. The Lionesses’ triumph is a landmark moment for all aspiring female players passionate to make a mark in football. The change we’ve been waiting for in women’s football is now gathering momentum, which compels us to wonder – how can we ensure access to safe and secure pitches for women and girls teams across the UK?
The above question becomes all the more relevant as Playfinder witnessed 32% growth in football bookings made by women during Euro 2022. If we talk about numbers, this has gone from 1,262 bookings in May to 1,661 in July across the UK. These numbers clearly indicate that we need access to more pitches for women and girls’ sports to meet demand.
Euro 2022 has proven that with the right support, funding and visibility, the women’s game is capable of thriving. Now, the success of the Lionesses and the inspiration they have given girls across the UK has to be capitalised on in order to protect the legacy of the Women’s Euros.
Women’s football is making good progress but there’s still a long way to go. In order to see more trophies come England’s way, we need to come together and address the barriers that are lying in front of our future star players.
Why is it difficult for female players to access football pitches?
Let’s have a look at the big picture. One of the primary barriers for female players is access to pitches, and most venues are allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. However, many women’s teams who are just getting started cannot get into spaces which have been block-booked by men’s teams, often for several years. Sometimes, they share the pitch with men’s teams just because they can’t find anywhere else to play.
It is hard to believe that even today, many women & girls struggle to access to safe football pitches near them outside work and school hours. They want to play regularly and at a high level, but don’t have the resources, infrastructure or support to do so.
Let’s talk about some campaigns that are opening up easy and free access to secure football grounds for women in the United Kingdom.
Adidas Pitch, Please campaign
Research by Women in Sport shows that 59% of teenage girls drop out of sports due to inadequate opportunities and facilities. To add to that, recent findings suggest that female players in male-dominated sports experience gender-based inequality when it comes to facilities and access.
To help address these pitch accessibility issues, Adidas created their Pitch, Please campaign for women, girls and non-binary players to help them gain regular access to football pitches for the full month of July offering over 100 hours worth of playtime throughout Women’s Euros.
MAKING 100s OF CALLS JUST TO BOOK A PITCH IN LONDON? DOES THIS SOUND OK? PITCH, PLEASE ⚽ 🙌— adidas UK (@adidasUK) July 8, 2022
IF YOU NEED SOMEWHERE TO PLAY, WHATSAPP THIS NUMBER NOW: +44(0)7874 089145 pic.twitter.com/9J42SfbkTi
The sports giant introduced a WhatsApp booking service, giving women, girls and non-binary players a fair chance to easily access the sports venues and do what they love the most.
As part of the campaign, the concerned teams could request to reserve 5-a-side, 7-a-side and 9-a-side pitches at Haggerston School and Fulham FC facilities for a match during the Women’s Euros.
Following that, Adidas teamed up with VERSUS in August to provide an additional 150 hours of free access for 32 Powerleague pitches across the UK, to help provide longer-lasting safe and accessible spaces to women, girls and non-binary players.
The Football Foundation have announced new capital investment programme namely Playzones which aims to engage with local communities across the country to create outstanding sports and activity spaces and tackle inequalities in participation.
For Football.— Football Foundation (@FootballFoundtn) August 25, 2022
For Rugby League.
For Rugby Union.
Our new multi-sport commitment will ensure that by 2025, we have the community facilities to enable more people to play more sport, more often.
Find out more 👇
The idea behind the campaign is to motivate more people, especially from the priority groups, to actively participate in football and other sports and provide an easy pathway to safe, inclusive and welcoming facilities.
Want to make your facility more accessible?
Bookteq is a low-cost integrated booking system for sports facilities (of all shapes and sizes) which allows players to easily book your facility and pay online with the help of simple calendar booking widget. The venue management booking software is super flexible, and able to handle all sorts of scheduling and payment requirements for your space. Save yourself time and get increased exposure for your venue with Bookteq.
Book a Demo today with one of our team members.