Lincolnshire FA recently nominated the Lincolnshire Lionesses Programme into the Women’s and Girls category of the County FA Recognition Awards 2023.
But what was the programme? And what did delivery look like?
Observation of a couple of data trends led to the creation and implementation of this programme.
Created in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust and the Barclays Girls Football School Partnership, this leadership course runs across Lincolnshire to give females, aged 14+, the opportunity to improve their skills, knowledge and understanding of female sports development in Lincolnshire and be a role model to other girls.
The girls’ game in Lincolnshire is growing at a fantastic rate, yet with that, comes a new set of requirements and adjustments. We acknowledge the need to recruit, develop and support our female workforce to give these new girls and their teams the right environment to thrive, as well as visible and local role models. On top of that, we have observed a drop off for girls playing football in their teenage years.
We understand that not every girl will keep playing football forever and we therefore wanted to create a programme that promotes the wider and more holistic benefits and reasons for staying involved in football. We want to retain those girls that don’t want to continue playing and inspire them to become leaders, and therefore empowered and upskilled to begin giving back to their community.
As such, The Lincolnshire Lionesses Programme was born. An online, completely free course that allows girls to understand the skills and personal qualities of different, varying roles that you may come across in a sports career, the barriers that girls in sport face nationwide, and the ways in which they are already being a leader in their community without perhaps realising it yet.
This year, 86 girls signed up to the course from clubs and schools all over Lincolnshire. That’s 86 girls volunteering in their community who previously were not doing so.
The objectives of the programme were to provide girls with a free, accessible course that gives them increased confidence, opened their eyes to ways to be involved in the game, and ultimately retain girls we may otherwise lose. The programme sets girls up perfectly to complete their FA Playmaker and we certainly wanted this course to be a springboard into doing so.
We understand that teenage girls may not willingly commit to a Playmaker course due to feelings of inadequacy or nervousness, and so we wanted to provide a safe way in for them to understand the unique value they bring to the grassroots coaching community. Upon completion of the course, all girls are signposted to the FA Playmaker and, when old enough, become part of Lincolnshire’s Female Coaches Group.
Critically, we also wanted to target secondary schools in which there is no girls football, ultimately helping to strive towards the FA’s target of 90% of schools in England becoming part of The FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships network, supported by Barclays. We therefore strategically targeted a couple of schools and were delighted to work with their students through this course.
Somercotes Academy in Lincolnshire is a perfect example of how this programme has addressed a problem. The school had no girls football, but after putting 12 of their Year 10 girls through the course, there is now a bi-weekly Year 7 and 8 girls football club co-led by the young leaders.
The school is also in a key area for the County FA, situated on the east coast of Lincolnshire where girls football provision is behind other areas in the county. We are confident that these girls, now empowered by the course, will bring girls football to life in their school and eventually, their community.
Taking all the above into consideration, we created this unique leadership course with the following modules:
UNIT 1 – BEING A LEADER
UNIT 2 – PHYSICAL ACTIVITY DECREASE
UNIT 3 – LEADERSHIP THROUGH FOOTBALL
UNIT 4 – DIFFERENTIATING AND SOLIVING PROBLEMS
UNIT 5 – FINAL PROJECT
UNIT 6 – RISK ASSESSMENTS
UNIT 7 – EVALUATION AND SELF REFLECTION
The first 4 modules are online and allow girls to consider the impact they can have as they develop into young adults, and the final three modules allow them to experience coaching for the first time and put their realised leadership skills into practice. In instances where this course is undertaken in schools, the County FA connects the girls to their nearest Wildcats provider or grassroots club who they can build and continue a relationship with. One of the greatest benefits of this course is allowing those community connections to happen and bringing people together for the good of the game.
Ultimately, the benefit of this course is quite simple: we are giving girls an opportunity that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. We are bringing new footballing opportunities to girls, and we are allowing girls to see their value in society, their power as a female leader and their potential.
Of course, coaching opportunities are available for any of these girls when they want them. But we believe that we took our understanding of young girls (that their insecurities and fears will more times than not get the better of them), and we provided them with the confidence boost and the springboard they needed to take that step.
If we sit back and expect girls to come to us and want to become coaches, knowing what we know about barriers and perceptions, then we believe we will be waiting a long time.
86 girls have enrolled on the course this season. 35 of them have completed their practical and received their certificate. Last year, 20 girls completed the course. Over just two seasons that’s over 50 girls signposted to the FA Playmaker that may not have considered it otherwise. 50 more females out in our Lincolnshire community being role models to the influx of new, young girls playing.
This year, we partnered HAF. The Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF) is a Government funded programme that provides free holiday clubs for reception to year 11 pupils in receipt of benefits-related free school meals in Lincolnshire over the summer, Christmas and Easter holidays.
Two groups of girls completing the course in Boston and Louth were able to deliver the practical part of their Lionesses Leadership course at HAF camps. We are really proud of this community connection and this unique way of girls being able to give back to their community. The County FA received a letter from Denise Hornsey, the senior project manager for Holiday Activities and Food (HAF), to thank us for our collaboration at HAF camps.
We have also had fantastic feedback from parents of girls who have embarked on the course:
“Thank you for the wonderful opportunity Evie has been given and the fabulous support.
It has been a great confidence booster for her, and she is loving to be a part of a sport that she adores”
The sky is the limit for this programme, and we are excited to see it go from strength to strength and see more and more girls leading in Lincolnshire.
Steph Powell, Head of Football Development, said: “The Lincolnshire Lionesses programme is something that we were incredibly proud to start and then support through the County FA. We saw the programme as a fantastic solution to the lack of female workforce and the lack of workforce in the female game and it is proving fruitful already.
To be able to give young people experiences to allow them to fall in love with volunteering in the game early in their journey is imperative for the future of football locally. We owe thanks to our partners that have supported us along the way in Cass Design, the School Games Network and the local Barclays Girls Football School Partnerships. Here’s to a bright future in Lincolnshire for Women & Girls in all football roles!”
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