Girls give FA red card over advice to get them into football
Pupils at a County Durham school have shown the red card to the Football Association over its advice to try and get more girls into the sport.
A document on its website included suggestions girls should be offered "colourful, nice smelling" bibs and pink whistles.
Football is popular with girls at Lumley Junior School and some wrote to the FA taking issue with the tips.
The opening suggestion is to: "Advertise in places where girls go i.e. coffee shops or on the back of toilet doors."
Deputy head Carol Hughes came across the document while researching resources to use in writing week.
"I was absolutely horrified, and actually laughed out loud at some of the suggestions," she said.
"I took it to another teacher and she had the same response."
'Not Barbie dolls'
Some of her year six pupils wrote to the FA, saying although the document was done with the best of intentions, they found it insulting.
"We aren't brainless Barbie dolls. We don't all like the same colour - pink," one of the pupils said. Another added: "We don't need pink whistles and we don't have big mouths, so why do we need a big mouth water bottle."
Another member of the class said: "The stereotypical thought of advertising in coffee shops as 'it is where girls go' is disgraceful." While a fourth pupil said: "I play for Middlesbrough and know countless girls that are interested in football and not one agrees with this."
A spokesman for the FA said: "The FA is committed to doubling female football participation by 2020 and to growing the women's game at all levels, from elite to grassroots.
"The document was created following research into women and girls playing football, with feedback from both participants and non-participants.
"We're very pleased to see how many girls at the school play football and the passion for the game that they clearly have."
'Naive rather than sexist'
Durham Women FC player, Helen Alderson, said she thought the FA had been naive.
She said: "If you look through the whole document some of it is alright - they've tried to put themselves in the shoes of girls and women.
"I'm a little bit disappointed in the FA - they've been naive rather than sexist. If they reviewed the document fully they might pull it."