Forty-nine girls from our Arsenal Women development programmes visited St. George’s Park this week to experience a day in the life of an international footballer.
During the day, the girls experienced a full tour of the venue, taking in the indoor pitches, hydrotherapy and rehabilitation facilities, a two-hour coaching session led by FA coaches and a two-hour futsal session led by the team of Arsenal coaches.
Kelly Smith, Faye White, Rachel Yankey and Casey Stoney were among the footballing legends that spoke to the group and took questions in a mini press conference as part of the workshop. The girls also met the recently-appointed England Women’s senior manager, Phil Neville.
Doubling participation among women and girls is a focal part of The FA’s ‘Gameplan for Growth’ and this, combined with our aim to ‘Inspire every girl to love the game’ through our development programme, was a key way of inspiring the girls, bringing both aspects to life.
Tom Hartley, Arsenal Women development officer, said: “A few of the girls described the opportunity of coming to play at St. George’s Park as ‘a dream come true’ which is fantastic and it’s great that we can provide that.
“I think it’s a taste of what could be and gives the youngsters the motivation to be the best that they can be and encourages bravery whenever they play football. Their Arsenal coaches emphasise the same messages but to hear it from England players who have been there and done it is gold dust.
“The four pillars - technical, physical, psychological and social development are coaching focus areas. The big focus from the FA coaches in our session was on the psychological and social corners so we worked on confidence, creativity and decision-making.
“The football is important but for us, it’s got to be fun. Hopefully the girls will not just leave with nice memories but they’ll have made new friends too – football is such a powerful vehicle.”
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