International Women’s Day offers Wolves Foundation the chance to shine a light on the diverse range of projects that are available for female participants, as well as encouraging more women and girls with an interest in sport to check out what the charity has to offer.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – which takes place today, March 8th - is to ‘choose to challenge’ to call out gender bias and inequality around a general emphasis on empowering women and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.
While the Foundation always aims to make their range of projects as inclusive as possible and available to all, they are always keen to attract more female participants and have also organised some virtual activity to promote International Women’s Day.
Former Foundation staff member and England women’s international Emily Westwood is to speak to PL Kicks girls' participants, following a very similar call held with Wolves Women captain and Foundation ambassador Anna Price.
And Wolves Women assistant manager Jenna Burke Martin is going to be interviewed by a group of students from St Peter’s School as part of the Premier League Inspires programme aimed at encouraging young people aged between 11 and 25 to fully reach their potential.
“As a Foundation, we are always looking to make our projects and activities as inclusive as possible, but International Women’s Day also offers a really good opportunity to promote what we do and try and encourage more female engagement,” explains equality, diversity and inclusion lead, Jonathan Warburton.
“A lot of the time, when we are running projects in schools, we end up with a cohort that is entirely made up of boys, or certainly a vast majority of boys, so I think it is up to us to work with the schools and see if there can be more of a mix to encourage more girls to get involved.
“One of our education officers Liam Turner has been working with St Peter’s School and this call with Jenna is something which we hope will inspire some of the female pupils to pursue their interest in sport.
“Our degree course run with the University of South Wales is another programme where we would be really pleased to have more female students involved, and that is another area which we are focusing on as part of our recruitment process.”
The call from Emily will be open to girls who would normally attend PL Kicks activities on a Tuesday evening at the Foundation Arena.
“Our PL Kicks Girls Hub is an important part of our Kicks offer, giving the girls of the city a safe and inclusive place to come and play their football,” says Luke Shearing, inclusion and cohesion officer with Wolves Foundation.
“Throughout the recent lockdown we have put together an online series to empower females in football, starting with a fantastic talk from Wolves Women captain Anna Price.
“Our next event in the series is this Q&A with ex-Wolves and England Women’s player Emily Westwood, who will also be leading our Girls Hub participants in a fun workout to keep them active during lockdown.”
When it comes to participation within football itself, girls and women’s football at Wolves has grown immensely in recent years, with the club as a whole providing substantial support and backing.
There are now more opportunities for girls and women of all ages and abilities to play, as explained by player development manager Steve Cullis, who has been involved in girls and women’s football at Wolves for the last nine years.
“In the last few years the growth of women’s football across the whole country has been huge,” says Steve.
“The World Cup when England reached the semi-finals a couple of years ago played a major part in that, with opportunities for people to watch games and the Lionesses doing so well.
“There are always going to be differences between men’s and women’s football but I think that tournament showed that there are high-paced, exciting and entertaining games in women’s football.
“That has also encouraged more mass participation in women’s football – there are more female players out there now than there has ever been – and there are far more opportunities to play.
“Wolves Foundation ls all about inclusivity, and providing opportunities for players at all levels right through from grass roots to the exceptional elite.
“Wolves as a club have also been really supportive over the last few years and there are more examples of clubs bringing female sections ‘in-house’, giving the sport more of a spotlight.
“It is now an attainable level for our girls coming through the system to aim for our first team, and that first team at some point could reach the Championship or Women’s Super League (WSL).
“Football clubs are now taking the women’s game more seriously with more investment and more resource and that is creating a knock-on effect at the lower levels with more girls taking up football – there are now far more opportunities available at recreational level.”
Steve’s message, as with all Foundation projects, is for girls who have an interest to give football a try, promising they will receive a warm welcome.
“I would encourage any girls, even if they have only the smallest interest in football, to give it a go,” he explains.
“Even if it doesn’t become a career, you can gain all the benefits of being fit and active, learning movement skills which could be transferred to other sports, and helping with social development.
“It does feel more socially acceptable for girls and women to play football now which has been a real positive, as well as losing the stigma and stereotype of what a female footballer should look like.
“At the Foundation we are confident that any female player, at any age and level, is comfortable in our environment and is given opportunities to learn and develop, but also to enjoy themselves.”
Wolves and Wolves Foundation are proud to have so many female members of staff and volunteers making such a positive contribution to the club and the charity. Keep up to date with our International Women’s Day posts on social media @wwfcfoundation.
*Any females interested in finding out more about the activities of Wolves Foundation should email firstname.lastname@example.org