The Scottish FA has today unveiled its new We Play Strong centres in conjunction with UEFA, with the aim of increasing participation in grassroots football for girls between the ages of 12 and 16 across Scotland.
Launched at St Paul’s Secondary School in Glasgow, the programme will see the Scottish FA work alongside UEFA’s wider We Play Strong strategy as part of their continued commitment to increasing engagement at all levels of the women’s game.
The centres are the latest highlight in a landmark year for Scottish women’s football, following on from the continued success of the Scottish FA Soccer Centres presented by SSE, which have seen over 1000 participants pass through the doors in 2018 alone.
The We Play Strong Centres offer after school football with the aim of having 120 schools involved in the programme and at least 1200 individuals.
In 2018, there were 1,515 Scottish Women’s Football registered players aged 12-13 and 533 players aged 16-17.
The aim of the We Play Strong Centres is to ensure retention rates increase and more girls continue to play football throughout their lives.
With the Scotland Women’s National Team now household names to many Scottish football fans after their historic qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the We Play Strong centres are expected to add another dimension to the grassroots women’s game nationwide.
Scottish FA Head of Women’s and Girls’ Football Donald Gillies was enthusiastic about the launch and said: “We’re delighted to be able to officially launch the We Play Strong centres, which we believe represent a tremendous opportunity to further enhance girls’ participation at the grassroots level.
“These centres provide an opportunity for girls to stay involved in football at an age at which they may otherwise fall away from the sport, and provides a natural next step on their football pathway.
“We’re also hugely excited to be working alongside UEFA on such a landmark project. Their support has been invaluable, and we’re looking forward to watching the centres develop.”
Hibernian captain and Scotland Women’s National Team defender Joelle Murray was in attendance alongside Scotland Women’s Under-19s midfielder Jamie-Lee Napier.
Joelle Murray said: “Football has changed my life and it has been something I have been extremely passionate about from a young age.
“The We Play Strong centres will hopefully work towards ensuring teenage girls continue to enjoy playing football and go on to enjoy the game throughout their life too.
“I would urge all girls to continue to play football as it can bring so many amazing experiences that can help to develop them as a person.”