Inspiring The Next Generation with McDonald’s Grassroots Football
I grew up in the 80’s. A time when kids played freely outside and parents only checked on you at dinner time! Many a summer holiday was spent attempting to play football in the fenced grass square opposite my house. I was always in goal as were most of the girls. As I got older time playing football dwindled and it was left mainly to the boys. Good job really as I have two left feet.
UEFA Women’s EURO Tournament 2017.
But the girls who didn’t give up at a young age, or have two left feet, grew into women who played football. Some of these women are now playing in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 tournament. Because football isn’t just for boys. The women’s England team boasts a wealth of talent including Steph Houghton, MBE and Fara Williams, MBE.
The UEFA Women’s EURO tournament is the women’s equivalent of the UEFA European Championship. Played every 4 years and usually to a much quieter fanfare than its male counterparts. This years tournament started on 16th July 2017 with the final on August 6th, 2017. England is through the group stages and is ready to play France in the quarter finals on 30th July 2017.
McDonalds Grassroots Football Programme.
Championing the England women’s team is McDonalds Grassroots Football Programme. For over 15 years McDonald’s grassroots football programme has supported community football across the UK. Giving youngsters across the country the chance to play football and develop their skills via community football days and skills classes for all abilities.
McDonald’s Grassroots Football is all inclusive and actively encourages all children and young adults to take up the sports at a community level regardless of ability, gender or disabilities. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged. It’s this approach that led to McDonald’s Grassroots Football to be sponsors of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 tournament. What better way to promote inclusivity than to further promote women’s football.
Olivia and Football.
Since a young age, Olivia has been aware of football. From getting her very own Liverpool ‘kit’ in the form of a baby grow at just 8 weeks old to getting a full replica kit at 3, it’s safe to say she has always been around football and often watches matches with her dad. Most recently joining her cousin’s last summer at a one-week astroturf football camp. She loved it then but of late she hasn’t really played much. Her youngest cousin and the only boy loves football so all the girls can be found having a kick around with him from time to time.
She also has a few friends who too play football on mixed and girls only teams. So when we sat down to watch the Portugal v England match, the concept of women’s football wasn’t completely alien to her. It wasn’t something she had watched before.
Watching the England Match.
I’m not such a big fan of football personally. But I thought I would use this opportunity to make it a fun night and set up a little tea party for myself, Olivia and her cousin who was staying over. Olivia was dubious, despite me telling her we were watching it, she wasn’t totally sold on the idea and I can imagine that is the general consensus. What would Olivia and indeed myself think of the match? Could the women’s team sway our opinion of football in general?
An early 6-minute goal from Toni Duggan the match gave us plenty to talk about. Most notably for Olivia was the difference in attitude and behaviour on the pitch from what she knows of men’s football. The way they got up after a hards tackle seemed to really strike a chord with her. Amazing was used more than once. You could see her becoming more and more engrossed with the match as it went on.
“Do you think women make good footballers?” I asked her. “Erm…. well yeah. They’re really good aren’t they?” I had to agree. I was definitely enjoying it more than I usually did. So far so good despite the equaliser and the first half ending 1-1. “When is the next match?” She asked! I could see the cogs in her brain ticking round. It has definitely given her some food for thought and a different perspective on her ‘football is for boys’ mindset!
It’s amazing and quite sad to see how many things are still labelled as gender specific. Watching these women take on a role that Olivia has up until now only see men in has opened her eyes and gave us the chance to discuss what other things she thinks are just for girls/women or boys/men. Whilst it may just have been a football match it allowed Olivia the opportunity to rediscover something via a different angle and absorb a whole new perspective. Will she decide to re-try football again? It is definitely a possibility now.
What about you? Have you/do you watch women’s football? I think I’m going to be tuning in again for the quarter finals. If you would like more information about McDonalds Grassroots Football, then head over by clicking the link and see how you can get involved as a parent or even a volunteer.