Buckhurst Hill Girls FC’s Wildcats Centre has been praised in a positive Football Association feature reviewing the impact of the ‘Gameplan for Growth’ Strategy for the women’s and girls’ game, which now sees 3.4m playing football nationally.
Launched in March 2017, the strategy pledged to tackle ambitious targets to double participation (by doubling the number of affiliated teams), double the game’s fanbase and create a high-performance system and world-class talent pipeline for England teams to achieve consistent success on the world stage. Over the next six weeks, The FA will be sharing the results.
After four seasons, the strategy is now concluding, and The FA will be outlining their continued backing for the sport. They’ll be sharing the stories of individuals who have been integral to the strategy’s success, with six features on: participation, fanbase, coaching, refereeing, England teams and the professional game.
This week’s focus is on The FA’s journey to double participation, growing from 6,000 affiliated teams to over 12,500, mini-soccer groups and adult recreational groups over the breadth of the country in 2020. It includes an interview with Louise Gear (The FA’s Head of Women’s Football Development) and the story of three different case studies, including Buckhurst Hill Lionesses.
From one of 1,621 Wildcats Centres established across England, up 715% from 2017, Craig Sherrin said: “As Club Secretary of Buckhurst Hill FC and a father of two daughters, three years ago I realised the girls who were training as part of our boys’ group deserved their own team. After advertising locally and working with coaches and parents, we set up the Buckhurst Hill FC Lionesses.”
“We were made aware by the Essex County FA that we could sign-up to The FA’s Wildcats programme where we’d receive extra funding, coaching, marketing guidance and essential kit like footballs and bibs. We kicked-off our first session with 15 girls aged between 5-11. The group mainly consisted of friends of my daughters, or sisters from our existing boys’ teams.”
“Three years down the line from the initial decision to form the Lionesses, come rain or shine we have an average of 65 girls at training each week and the level of support from coaches, schools and parents has been incredible. After a weekly Friday night session, there is no better feeling than seeing the smile on the girls faces and their excitement for the following Friday.”