I spoke at the launch of the Football Association’s new women’s super league in April. In June, I attended a reception at Downing street for the England women’s team ahead of the World cup in Germany. At the junior level, we made strong representations to the FA to increase the age at which girls can play in mixed teams from 11 to 13. I am delighted that that will happen from next year.
I thank the Minister for that answer. Will he join me in congratulating all the teams, especially my own team, Lincoln Ladies, on the successful first season of the FA WSL? Lincoln Ladies’ attendance rose on average by more than 400% compared with the previous year. Does he agree that the first season laid an excellent marker for future seasons and that it highlights the continuing growth of the women’s game in Lincoln and throughout England?
Of course I do. My hon. Friend will be delighted to know that I had the opportunity to meet a number of the Lincoln Ladies players during a visit to the city on 14 June. There is no doubt that the new league has been a fantastic success and I hope it will be a great driver of more women playing football.
Will the Minister raise with the FA its girls’ talent development programme, which has meant that my constituent, Jaime Gotch, who used to go to the Watford centre, is now left without any support for her very talented football career?
Women and girl’s football is a growing sport and is one of the fastest growing sports among girls. As I am sure the Minister is aware, it is enormously important to have women in coaching and being trained as coaches. What is being done to get more women into coaching?
I am glad to say that there is a very simple answer to that question: the development of St George’s Park, the FA’s new centre of excellence in the midlands. Its specific remit is to drive up the number of coaches, both male and female, across the community game. Many football writers, who have been urging this for a long time, think that it will be the single biggest seminal change to English football over the next decade. I hope that it will make a huge contribution to sorting out this situation.