Sport England has awarded £1m of National Lottery funding to England’s hosting of the postponed UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2022 in the hope that more adult women will be inspired to get into football.
The investment will support local plans within the proposed host cities for the event – with Southampton being one of them.
Eight Host City Legacy Groups have been established with key partners from Football, Local Authorities, Active Partnerships, Education, Public Health and Culture coming together to work towards a common EURO 2022 Legacy Plan. These groups will be awarded approximately £100,000 to create a recreational women’s football offer in each of the nine host cities – currently being reconfirmed to deliver the tournament – to capitalise on anticipated interest in the event.
The offer will include female activation in the regions alongside The FA’s new entry level course aimed at getting more volunteers into grassroots football in a safe and welcoming way.
The investment will also pilot a new programme in each of the host cities to explore whether parents and carers attending The FA’s Wildcats sessions, aimed at girls aged 5-11, have a desire to take part in adult sessions that would run simultaneously alongside the Wildcats sessions.
Research suggests significant rises in women playing following the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France, with 460,000 more women aged 25+ were playing football after the World Cup – which England finished 4th in – the biggest increase of any age group.
Phil Smith, Sport England Director of Sport, said:
“We know from data collected during the 2019 Women’s World Cup that there was a significant increase in the number of women playing football both during and after the tournament.
“For EURO 22 Sport England and The FA are trying to get ahead of the game. We know the Tournament will excite the fans and the public, so we want to use that excitement to support even more women and girls to start playing.”
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture at Southampton City Council, said:
“This is great news for women’s sport. We want to ensure this tournament inspires a generation and this legacy funding will absolutely help with this, encouraging continued participation in football in Southampton long after the tournament has taken place. We will continue to work closely with UEFA and other partners to ensure that the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament is a time to remember in our city and has a lasting impact.”
The UEFA Women’s EURO was initially due to be played in summer 2021, however following the COVID-19 pandemic the tournament was rescheduled and will now take place from 6-31 July 2022.