By Sharron Stokieshazer Hardwick

As record-breaking crowds supported England in the UEFA Women’s Euros, a wave of interest from females wanting to dust off their football boots, or put them on for the first time, has been noticed at Kilgetty AFC.

“We’ve had lots of messages requesting information about our girl’s and Women’s Football Training since the Euro’s final,” Shared Sharron Hardwick “We hope our new and ongoing training sessions will open doors for women and girls to play football, in a welcoming environment.”

Founder of the Fair Trade In Football Campaign, Secretary of Kilgetty AFC, Under 13s Girls Coach and Stoke City Football Steward Sharron is no stranger to the game, well, watching the game at least! Due to girls’ football not being an option during school years, countless females have been denied access to playing the sport they love. It is hoped that England winning the Women’s Euros might further ignite the sparks of female football participation.

Last year Kilgetty Coach James North set up Under 8s, 10s and 12s Girls Teams. The response was immense, with over 70 girls registering within the first few weeks. Thanks to volunteer coaches the girls now have opportunities to train and play football.
Extending the female game James, with Coach Lizzie Walsh, is now setting up Kilgetty Women’s Football Training sessions on Fridays from 6pm to 7pm, after the Women’s Euros interest is booming.

Sharron recently attended the FAW “CREATING YOUR ENVIRONMENT: FOR HER” Workshop, led by female representatives of the FAW, helping to break down barriers preventing women and girls from joining the game.

“I’ve watched Stoke City play football since I was 10, but until Stoke City Community Trust set up Mum’s Football a few years ago I’d never played football! Now thanks to Kilgetty AFC Women’s Football Training I can play the game I love. I might be older and a total novice but I feel part of the team and love every minute of the training.” Continues Sharron.

Something as simple as football clubs displaying female football images, having suitable sanitary facilities and period dignity, having female representation on the coaching staff and Committee are all important aspects in making females feel more welcome and part of the team.

Finance is one huge barrier to making this happen.

“Grassroots football clubs are underfunded already. We rely on sponsors and fundraise to pay for basic facilities and pitch upkeep, and our Chairman applies for various grants, but we’re always struggling. Our changing and outdoor toilet facilities are dire! We have so many junior teams, boys and girls, great men’s teams and a growing Women’s team, we need the facilities to make our football club a place where all players, male and female, have decent and suitable facilities. The female game is opening up, it’s exciting to be part of it, I never thought I would be.” Concludes Sharron.

If you would like to play football for the first time, dust your boots of and play again, why not sign up to play at FAW Platinum Accredited Kilgetty Association Football Club, you can be part of creating an environment welcoming all to the game too. Contact James 07872594290.