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Wednesday 08 May 2024
FIFA and Irish FA team up to boost girls’ football

The Irish Football Association has delivered an exciting initiative in partnership with FIFA aimed at promoting sustainable growth in girls’ and women’s participation in football.

The FIFA League Development Programme focuses on empowering member associations to create safe and structured environments for players to thrive. 

And support from the programme has successfully helped to establish girls-only football pathways in Newry and Enniskillen.

The initiative has led to 43 teams across 18 clubs, involving nearly 500 young players, experiencing the joy and benefits of structured football.

The Irish FA secured support from FIFA to establish the seventh regional girls-only youth league in Northern Ireland with the Newry-based Carnbane Youth League. 

This league aims to provide opportunities for girls’ teams in the area who were previously missing out on regular structured football.

The Carnbane Football League, established in 1968, was identified as a key facilitator in mapping out the current provision and ensuring access to football for young female players.

The collaboration between the Carnbane Youth League, the Irish FA Foundation and football clubs in the Newry, Mourne and Down area has resulted in the launch of new pathways for girls.

Under-11, U13 and U15 age groups now have dedicated leagues, allowing young players to develop their skills and passion for the game. These pathways will serve as stepping stones for aspiring female footballers, nurturing talent and fostering a love for the sport.

A new sub-committee has been formed within the Carnbane Youth League to drive girls’ football forward in the area. Representing local clubs, the committee will work closely with the Irish FA to ensure the success and sustainability of the youth league.

Ten clubs and 26 teams have already signed up to participate in an initial pilot, demonstrating the enthusiasm and commitment of the local football community. The 10 clubs involved are: Ashgrove Rovers, Banbridge Rangers, Midway Youth, Warrenpoint Town, Damolly, Rathfriland Youth, Moneyslane, Armagh City, Valley Rangers Youth and Camlough Rovers.

Abbie Magee, Irish FA Foundation Games Development Officer, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Carnbane Youth League in this project. The establishment of the girls-only league is a significant milestone for girls’ football in Northern Ireland. Together we can create a legacy of empowerment and opportunity.”

Carnbane Youth League committee member Joanne Patterson said: “The launch of dedicated pathways for girls is a gamechanger. We believe that this initiative will inspire the next generation of female football stars and contribute to the overall growth of the sport.”

Meanwhile, in Fermanagh/Tyrone, the Irish FA secured FIFA support to establish the seventh regional girls-only Small-Sided Games (SSG) centre in Northern Ireland through the Brendan Keogh Youth League.

The centre provides opportunities for girls’ teams in the Fermanagh/Tyrone area to start playing structured football at a young age. New U8 and U10 sections have been created to feed into already established U12 and U14 pathways.

Eight clubs make up the 17 teams participating in an initial pilot, which is now under way. And the SSG programme will be embedded into the existing calendar of girls’ football.

The clubs involved are: Enniskillen Rangers, Ballinamallard United, Lisbellaw United, Enniskillen Galaxy, Strathroy Harps (Omagh), Irvinestown Wanderers, Lisnaskea Rovers Girls and Augher Stars. 

“The Irish FA, in collaboration with Carnbane Girls’ Youth League and BKYL, will continue to monitor progress, gather feedback and make necessary adjustments. As more girls take to the pitch, we look forward to witnessing their talent and passion flourish,” said Lauren Moore, Women’s Football Development Manager with the Irish FA Foundation.