The Irish FA Foundation’s girls-only Small-Sided Games Centre at Mallusk has been hosting a masterclass this week to celebrate Women’s Sport Week.
The objective of the masterclass with A Licence coach Stevie Graham is to provide Under-13 coaches, both male and female, with useful ideas they can implement in sessions that focus on playing out from the back.
Stevie has also led informative masterclasses with U9 and U11 coaches over the past six weeks. The foundation believes the classes aimed at developing coaches will ultimately benefit the crop of young girls coming through at the grassroots level.
The Small-Sided Games Centre at Mallusk covers four age categories: Under-9, U11, U13 and U15. The coaching sessions with the various age groups are aimed at facilitating the transition from five-a-side small-sided games up to 11-a-side full pitch matches.
The girls-only games played in Newtownabbey have also provided young newly qualified female referees with the opportunity to gain experience in a non-competitive atmosphere.
Each week - since the start of May - 68 teams and 600-plus girls have been competing at the Belfast City Council pitches in Mallusk.
The Irish FA Foundation has detected a noticeable increase in girls’ participation in football across the country.
Gail Redmond from the foundation said: “Not only is it fantastic to see so many teams participate this year at Mallusk but Under-13 leagues have been established in the Causeway Coast and Glens district and in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area. We are building better structures to help facilitate growth in the women’s game.”
Women’s Sport Week, which is running until 25 June, encourages women to try out a new sport or physical activity and celebrates the amazing achievements of the UK’s female athletes, coaches and volunteers. It also raises awareness of the many and varied opportunities for women and girls to take part in sport.