Arsenal Ladies defender and star of Team GB, Steph Houghton, was on hand last week to lend her support to an initiative encouraged at getting more girls involved in football.
Using the backdrop of the Olympic Games, which saw interest in the women’s game reach unprecedented levels, the versatile left back joined former FA head of elite development, Gareth Southgate, and Sky Sports News presenter, Charlotte Jackson, to launch the npower Football League Girls’ Cup - a national six-a-side tournament for under-13 girls that culminates in a final played at Wembley Stadium next year.
New research from the Football League sponsors highlighted that the Olympics had had a positive impact on young girls in the UK, with football one of the top three sports that they would like to try following London 2012. One in four girls, meanwhile, aged six to 13 said that they watched the Team GB women’s team compete.
The increased appetite for football is backed at an adult level too. In recent research from the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), it was revealed that over 90,000 women in the UK say they would like to play more football.
Speaking about her involvement in the initiative, Houghton said:
“From a very young age all I wanted to do was play football and I was lucky enough to be given the opportunities to get right to the top of the game. This summer I’ve played in front of some of the best attended women’s games of all time at a home Olympics, but I couldn’t have done that if there wasn’t time invested in me at an early stage.
“This is why I’m so supportive of this competition as it gives young girls the opportunity to play in a competitive but enjoyable atmosphere. If my experiences in the Olympics inspires even one girl to pick up a football and play, then that will match any other achievement in my career.”