Girls in football: Why is there a gap in opportunities at academy level?

Last updated at 14:47
To enjoy the CBBC Newsround website at its best you will need to have JavaScript turned on.
Girls in football: "I want to produce an England captain at Liverpool girls' academy"

There are now more girls playing football in the UK than ever before.

However, Newsround has learned that there is a gap in development opportunities between boys and girls when it comes to early professional coaching.

We contacted every Premier League side to ask them when boys and girls can start in their academy set-ups.

We found that the majority of clubs have an in-house academy which includes 'pre-academy' coaching options for boys as young as five.

However, only Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea told us about their pre-academy options for girls between the ages of five and eight.

Newsround presenter Leah Boleto has been to visit Liverpool's academy to find out more.

To enjoy the CBBC Newsround website at its best you will need to have JavaScript turned on.
Girls in football: What is it like to play in West Ham Women's academy?
Why is there a difference?

The system in place to develop talented female footballers is different to the one used to develop boys.

The boys' game is controlled by the Premier League and the girls' game is controlled by the English Football Association.

To enjoy the CBBC Newsround website at its best you will need to have JavaScript turned on.
How do the opportunities for girls and boys compare at Premier League clubs?

The girls' game is more in line with other sports in Britain than the boys' game and focuses more on regional development.

The FA invites major clubs - such as those in the Premier League - to host these 'Regional Talent Clubs', where they help develop the best female footballers up until professional level.

There are 32 Regional Talent Clubs across England and they are placed into 'tiers' based on the level of facilities they offer.

The Regional Talent Clubs start at Under 10 level, and boys' academies are allowed to start at under-9 level.

However, a lot of teams in the Premier League start training talented boys in their 'pre-academies' before they officially join the main academy at Under 9. In response to the findings, Louise Gear, the FA's Head of Women's Participation, told Newsround: "The participation base for boys has been historically wider than girls because every single boy experiences football in their PE lessons once or twice a week throughout their school life. That isn't the same for girls.

"That's why the football schools partnership initiative is fundamental to that. What we will do is then start to work through the player pathway where those girls who are starting to display the skills and the talent to progress into the player pathway will be nurtured in the right way.

"The ambition is to give boys and girls the same experience."

Your Comments

Join the conversation

This entry is now closed for comments.

0 comments