Girls across Scotland are set to benefit from a ground-breaking Playmakers football programme developed by UEFA and Disney.

Using Disney’s world-renowned storytelling and inspired by academic research showing the positive role of storytelling in helping children take up sport, Playmakers will now be utilised throughout Scotland with the aim of increasing participation levels of young girls.

Targeting 5-8 year-old girls not currently playing football, Scotland has joined 22 other UEFA national associations in their commitment to utlise the Playmakers programme through schools, clubs and local communities, with more than 1,000 girls expected to benefit within the first year.

Utilising a unique storytelling approach featuring Disney characters, the programme aims to increase the proportion of girls meeting the World Health Organization’s minimum standards for physical activity currently just 16%.

Playmakers will initially follow the narrative of global box office smash hits, Disney’s Frozen 2 and Disney Pixar’s Incredibles 2. Equipped with footballs, bibs and cones, trained coaches will encourage participants to play the roles of popular characters, such as Elastigirl and Elsa and Anna, bringing the films’ action scenes to life through movement, teamwork and their imagination.

On Thursday, 7 October, characters from Incredibles 2 attended Oriam for the launch event in Scotland.

Scottish FA Head of Girls’ and Women’s Football Fiona McIntyre: “UEFA Playmakers in partnership with Disney is a programme we are passionate about in Scotland as we believe its unique style and format will be of great benefit to young girls across the country and ignite their interest to play football.

After the programme had to be put on hold last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am now delighted to see UEFA Playmakers be rolled out across the country. Participation numbers have grown by a third since 2016 and programmes like this will only help us improve that figure and have more girls out on the pitch enjoying playing the game.

“UEFA are aiming to double girls’ and women’s participation in football across Europe by 2024 which is a goal we in Scotland fully support and through our Football Development department we look forward to seeing girls across the country become empowered by Disney and football.”

Scotland Women’s National Team defender Rachael Boyle said: “As a proud mother, I am excited by the Playmakers programme as I think it will be a great tool in increasing the number of girls on football pitches across the country.

“When I was younger I loved Disney and even now, I still enjoy watching all the movies with my daughter. Seeing how inspired she is by all of the characters, coupled with her early interest of football, you can tell this programme will be perfect to engage the interest of young girls.

“Hopefully the programme catches the imagination of girls across the country and they reap the benefits of it. When I was younger I had to play with boys teams and there were never any opportunities like this. It’s amazing that girls in Scotland will have the chance to begin their footballing journey in such a fun way and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have.”

Nicole Morse, Disney EMEA’s Vice President of Integrated Marketing, said: “This brilliant Playmakers initiative is another great example of Disney’s long-term commitment to help future generations lead healthier lifestyles.

By using our much-loved characters and stories as a force for good, we can really make a difference and inspire families and children to be more active.

“So we’re very proud that by partnering with UEFA on the first pan-European girls football programme, we will encourage more and more girls across the region to get active, build their confidence and participate in playing football, all in an environment that has been specifically designed for them.”