Our Wildcats Time Comes to an End, Sadly

This week we received an email, letting us know that our Saturday football sessions with Crystal Palace Wildcats will finish.

H at SSE Crystal Palace Wildcats

Which makes several young girls aged 5-11 quite sad.

Wildcats are girls-only football sessions which we’ve been attending since we did some work with the FA. We have an awesome group of girls, we meet almost every Saturday whatever the weather and we play football. We train, we learn skills and we have fun.

But not for much longer.

I had noticed several clubs starting extra Wildcats sessions around the country, and Crystal Palace weren’t alone in this, starting three extra sessions.

Crystal Palace Wildcats sessions 2018

Which leaves me wondering – has it all been too much? Have SSE stopped sponsoring Wildcats and actually the clubs can’t afford to do this, so these sessions are the first thing to go? Has the FA pulled funding?

We don’t have answers, just that there’s an opportunity to move to Caterham Pumas.

But it does make me wonder, If that was the case, why didn’t they set up Caterham Pumas Wildcats?

Although then we wouldn’t have had our amazing coaches, Charlotte and Sophie. They have made such a massive difference to all of the girls, bringing a love of football to their Saturday mornings. H used to be someone the boys wouldn’t pass to, to now being someone who will try and get a ball from the boys.

They have been brilliant, and we’re all gutted that won’t have training sessions with them any more. They made a difference.

It does make me wonder. Is it about money? Everything to do with women’s football is to do with money. Look at the new league structure. Coincidentally, Crystal Palace Ladies were accepted into Women’s Premiership on the same day we got our email saying the sessions would no longer exist. I’m sure the two incidents aren’t linked…

So, onwards we go, having to find another club to play football. I can only hope any future coach gives H the support and confidence which got her to the level she plays now. I’m hoping that all her friends she made make the switch as well…

Thank you Charlotte and Sophie. You made a difference to a lot of girls and will continue to do so. Thank you for taking the time out to make a difference.

We’re Cheering England in the Football!

Are you watching the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals? We are – all the games are on Eurosport so we’ve been watching a LOT of football.

scoring a goal in football

England are on a roll – we won all the matches in the group stage (which was pretty tense at times) setting up a Quarter Final with France.

Women’s Football is still a funny old game though.

This last week The FA launched a campaign with Disney, asking the England Women’s players which Disney Princess they identified with the most. Alas, they didn’t also ask the England Men which character they identified with too…

We recently bought an Amazon Echo which has been brilliant for a lot of things. We’ve been asking Alexa what the football scores are (when a game has been too good and we don’t want to flick between channels in case we miss a goal) and she hasn’t been able to answer. I flagged this, and received this as a reply from Amazon.

Hello,

I understand that Alexa is providing the sports update for men’s football but not for the women’s football scores.

I’ve checked our records and I’d like to let you know that, Currently Alexa doesn’t support women’s football sports update as this feature is not available on Alexa.

As this is a newly launched device in UK, there are few features which need to be added. However, we are constantly working to add more features to the device at the earliest possible. I’ve forwarded your message to our Amazon Echo development team for consideration as we make further improvements.

I’m sure that they’ll carefully look into this and take necessary actions in the nearest future. I’d like to thank you for bringing this into our notice and please be assured that we’ll try to bring this option to the earliest.

Let’s hope so, eh?

Friday night @paniniukofficial sticker time #weuro2017 #paninistickers

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Meanwhile, in the neverending quest to fill H’s Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book, shops are running out of stickers. This must mean they’ve been really popular – I’ve seen the starter kits at our local WH Smiths, they don’t stock the refills though. So far I’ve seen them in WH Smiths and Sainsburys, and that’s all. Things are getting better. Slowly.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an England Football Lottie doll? H has several, including the football kit – Brownie Lottie and Football Lottie watched the match together, apparently.

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H now has a subscription to She Kicks magazine – she’ll get a copy every month, and we’re loving the current Euro 2017 edition. If you want information about the Women’s game, then She Kicks is the place to go. In fact, it’s the only place to go – and it’s a great place to go.

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I had a conversation with one of our football-mad Brownies a couple of weeks ago. “Are you looking forward to the Women’s Euros?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t follow Women’s Football” she replied. I pointed out she was such a good footballer what if she ended up being a future Lioness… I think this is the problem with the women’s game. The funding of things like the SSE Wildcats groups needs to continue. Keep making football affordable and fun. Awareness is getting out there, make more clubs available for girls to attend.

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Accept that girls will like the men’s game as much as the women’s game, and make sure information about the women’s game is available. Get England Women playing at Wembley again. I realise this is difficult due to Tottenham playing there this season, but in the last three years they’ve played there once – opting for games in stadiums around the country for friendlies instead.

McDonalds sponsor a lot of Grassroots football. When England do well, get players on adverts on tv – you know, like they do with other sportsmen and women. Let’s have players getting equal billing alongside the men so people stop saying “who’s that?” and know exactly who they’re watching.

Things are getting better – having Little Mix do their Euro 2017 Salute campaign was brilliant! Even if half the girls at Wildcats weren’t keen on Little Mix they were happy to do a salute for England!

H doing her #salute for England’s #lionesses #weuro2017 #wecanplay

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Most SSE Wildcats sessions are coming to an end now, and we’ve found out Crystal Palace will continue. Our sessions have moved up in price from £1 a week to £3 which is still affordable. As well as this you can select which weeks you want to go.  We’ve decided to stick with Wildcats as despite our local club offering free sessions for girls, I feel like H is progressing better alongside other girls right now. That may change in the future but for now it’s what works best for us and we’re lucky to have the choice.

Assuming that England qualify for the 2019 World Cup in France, we’re definitely going. Definitely.

Just yesterday it was announced that Arsenal Ladies were going to be known as just Arsenal. The only time their gender will come into it is when it needs to. This is awesome news and I hope more clubs follow.

Of course, it also goes without saying, boys like women’s football too. Don’t shut them out while trying to encourage girls to play….

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations

future tottenham player, FA Girls' Football Week

Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations are happening NOW!

Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations are happening at the same time as the UEFA Women’s European Finals this year. England’s Lionesses are one of the favourites to win the UEFA Women’s European finals too. We beat Scotland the other night 6-0, and tomorrow night face Spain.

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations happen this year from the 16th July to the 6th August 2017. It is a national campaign to raise the profile of female football and double the number of girls playing by 2020.

Last year more than 130,000 girls took part in sessions. This was in schools, universities, colleges, clubs, community groups and other organisations country-wide.  Activities include playing, training or just learning more about football.

Warming up with SSE Wildcats, FA Girls' Football Week 

Organisations can register their regular activities on the site, or start something new. It’s loads of fun and longer than a week this year too. It is a great chance to showcase female football from grassroots to England at the Euro’s, and to help inspire new players and volunteers.

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations happen once a year every year – we’ve written about it before (2015 and 2016). We’ve always been lucky that there are football events near us, though a couple of years ago the word hadn’t really spread. As time has progressed everyone knows about it. Add to this the launch of a new website, For Girls.

For Girls is the FA’s website which is for women’s football – there are profiles for all our England players, with plenty of facts and information. There are news articles and loads of things which are relevant to the women’s game.

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if England won the Euro’s? It was so close in the World Cup two years ago. Watching two years ago I felt a different sense of pride towards the game. It really meant something when I’d fallen out of love with the England men’s game. It was like we were the underdogs of our own country. Nobody expected us to do as well as we did. But we were brilliant! We came away so proud of the Lionesses achievement finishing third.

So now Girls’ Football Week is celebrating the Euro’s with the Lionesses and loads of activities for girls all tied in.

SSE Wildcats Girls Football Club, FA Girls' Football Week

We’ve been going to the SSE Wildcats at Crystal Palace weekly since our first session which H LOVES attending. I’m seeing a whole new side to her since we started, with far more confidence. She wants to be the goalkeeper or a defender and is bossing the rest of her team from the back and knows where her other players should be. Our Wildcats sessions are over (we can’t make the last two sessions) and are going to start again in September, going up to December – and I’m delighted. You can book here, sessions are based in Caterham and are £3 a time.

Girls' Football Week Euro Celebrations
Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations with Coach Charlotte. H got a Lionesses sports headband (which is perfect for her) and a new water bottle – as well as player pictures, a wallchart and an SSE Wildcats certificate.

Today we had a Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations session, with games featuring the England players and goodies for the girls afterwards – Lionesses ones too! Right now H feels like she’s a part of it, and that’s brilliant. It helps the support and even if she isn’t the best football player out there, she’s playing and having fun. That’s what it’s all about – taking part.

FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations has a website – head over here for more information to find out what is planned where you live. Our group did their Salute for England (which is not yet online) – have yours yet?

This is part of the FA Project we have been participating in. We have received a fee for our time.