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She Inspires festival of football final to take place this Friday

3 weeks ago

She Inspires festival of football final to take place this Friday

Up to 250 young women from across Merseyside will come together to enjoy the finale of the award-winning She Inspires football programme on Friday, 7th June. 

Hosted by the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable and a squad of top sporting partners, teams from 16 schools will take part in a ‘festival of football’ to celebrate the conclusion of the year-long education, skills, and training programme.

Designed to help pupils aged 13 and 14 reach their full potential both on and off the pitch, a total of 180 weekly coaching sessions and practical workshops have been delivered by Everton in the Community and Liverpool FC Foundation to 750 girls from 30 schools across the region during the academic year.

Results show the course has helped improve the girls’ feelings of confidence, resilience, and leadership by 90%.

Today’s action-packed festival of football will give the girls the chance to test their skills at fun, motivational sessions led by professional coaches from the city’s two Premier League clubs and hosted by the Liverpool County FA. They will hear from former England player and Liverpool F.C Ambassador Natasha Dowie about her career at the top of the game.

They will also get the opportunity to visit a range of interactive stations and stalls hosted by Merseyside Police and a wide range of partners, including Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, the North West Ambulance Service, the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, and community organisations including the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Victim Care Merseyside services Catch22 and RASA.

The event looks to inspire the Year 8 and 9 pupils to consider a career in policing or the other blue light services by giving them a unique insight into life working in the Matrix team, as a dog handler or mounted police officer, or as a firefighter or paramedic. They will also be able to test their cyber skills using VR headsets and try their hand at DJing and some alternative sports, such as boxing.

Among those who has benefitted from the She Inspire programme is 13-year-old Afola Olaitan. Initially timid and nervous about playing football, the Hillside High School in Bootle pupil has flourished during the programme, growing in confidence and leadership to the point she is now captain of the school football team and has signed up for a refereeing course.

Afola said: 

She Inspires. Credit: Merseyside Police
She Inspires. Credit: Merseyside Police

“I struggled with communicating people, I had no-one to talk to. People saying mean stuff to me, discouraging my efforts, made me really sad. I wasn’t confident.

“But when She Inspires started, I built up my courage and started my life again.

“In football training, we learnt team work, association, communication, and all sorts of football skills. In the classroom, we learnt self-care, self-esteem, confidence, encouragement, positive impacts and to be proud of yourself, no matter what.

“I loved the part where you taught self-esteem because I got whole a lot of knowledge form that and I learnt to love myself more, rather than thinking negative of myself.”

Today’s event is the finale of the programme which has seen training and activities running since last June, focused in areas where youth services have been cut and where the young women may not have access to many other opportunities. Delivered in partnership with schools, the girls have benefitted from up to seven weeks of free coaching sessions with additional educational activities.

Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said:

“It’s been fantastic to see the progress of our She Inspires programme in its second year – even more young women reached and greater evidence that this initiative is helping to build their confidence, resilience, and leadership skills.

“It’s been a genuine privilege to see the growth they’ve shown, both in the classroom and on the pitch, and the difference this programme is making in helping to inspire and empower them to reach their full potential.

“My thanks go to all the partners who have helped make this programme such a success and opened an exciting new world of opportunity for these young women from across our region.”

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy KPM said:

“I’m proud to support initiatives like our She Inspires programme, and this festival is a great way to celebrate the work and dedication from the girls and coaches over the last year.

“Events where we have the opportunity to engage with young people on a different level are helping us to improve our relationships and build trust and confidence with them. The success of the programme is a testament to the power of collaborative, partnership working and the passion of everyone involved to help the girls reach their full potential.

“Positive activities like this are vital in inspiring the girls to believe in themselves so that they can be whatever they want to be. It’s great to see so many of them having fun, gaining in confidence and seizing the opportunities that this initiative offers, both on and off the pitch.”

Anthony Harden, Everton in the Community’s Senior Manager of Youth and Support said:

“It’s fantastic to come together and celebrate another successful year of She Inspires delivery. We’ve engaged with even more young women across Merseyside this time round and it’s rewarding to see how much they’ve all progressed on and off the pitch during that time. 

“We’re proud to be a part of such an empowering initiative with a number of key organisations all unified towards the same goal – to inspire the next generation of females in our region.”

Gemma Smith, LFC Foundation’s Head of Programmes, said:

“We’ve been delighted with the progress of the She Inspires programme over the last year and these events are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate its success and everyone coming together to help girls to reach their full potential and provide them with the platform they need. 

“Alongside our partners we are proud to play a part in inspiring young females across the Liverpool City Region and providing them with the opportunities that they deserve.”  

The She Inspires programme was first launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable in March 2022 to mark International Women’s Day.

In its first year, the initiative reached more than 120 young women, aged between 15 and 18, and culminated in an exciting finale at the Jeffrey Humble in Aintree, attended by Liverpool FC Women’s player Missy Bo Kearns. 

The initiative was so successful it was awarded for Innovation in the Women and Girls Football category at the 2022 National County FA awards in recognition of its work to improve grassroots football, encourage new players and inspiring existing ones at Wembley Stadium in November.

Find out more about the She Inspires Programme here.

Find all the latest Liverpool news here.

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