SSE survey says 'positive shift' in attitude towards girls playing football

21 August 2018

SSE survey says 'positive shift' in attitude towards girls playing football

An incredible 53% of girls currently playing football first started when they were aged 5 - 7 years old.

More girls in the UK are being encouraged into football thanks to a positive shift in attitude among parents, says new research conducted by SSE.

The first ‘SSE Girls Sport Participation survey’, has revealed that younger parents in particular are leading the way in promoting the beautiful game to their daughters.

Exploring parental attitudes to sport and football as well as participation and encouragement, the survey shows UK parents, especially those under 40, are increasingly enthusiastic about their daughters playing football, going to see a professional match or enjoying a career in the sport.

Among the key findings are:

  • Being part of a team and increased physical fitness are the benefits for girls of playing football most cited by parents (both 78%)
  • Dads are generally happier than Mums for their daughters to pursue playing, coaching or administration careers in football, with younger parents more comfortable than older peers
  • When it comes to football careers being achievable for daughters it is younger parents who are more likely to agree. While Dads are more comfortable, when it comes to feeling achievable it is Mums who are most likely to agree that (with talent) there should be no limits to progress
  • Younger (under the age of 40) parents are most likely to agree that they would take their daughter to a women’s professional game (38% of younger Dads strongly agree) and to a men’s professional game (39% of younger Dads strongly agree)
  • Younger Mums are most likely to disagree that ‘Football is a sport for boys’
  • Age 5-7 is the key spot for girls to take up football.  53% of girls currently playing football first started at this age. 

The survey was commissioned by SSE, who currently sponsor the SSE Women’s FA Cup and SSE Scottish Women’s Cup as well as delivering Girls’ Participation Programmes in both England and Scotland - and the results are of great encouragement to Baroness Sue Campbell CBE, Director of Women’s Football.

“The findings of the survey demonstrate the importance of programmes such as SSE Wildcats, which have been designed to introduce 5-11-year-old girls into football and in many cases will kick-start a life-long relationship with the game," she said.

“It is also great to see that parents are now seeing football as a potential career for their daughters, whether that be on or off the pitch. The FA Women’s Super League, our top tier of women’s football kicks off on Sunday 9 September as Europe’s only fully professional league.

“We hope many young girls will be inspired by these role models, with aspirations to one day emulate their success, be that as a player or in many of the supportive roles available such as a coach, nutritionist, physiotherapist or referee, just to name a few. 

“With the support of SSE we look forward to growing girl’s and women’s football in line with our ‘Gameplan for Growth’ strategy, which sees us strive to double both participation and the fanbase by 2020.”

Colin Banks, SSE Head of Sponsorship and Reward, added: “At SSE we’re passionate about women’s football and the growth of girls participating in the beautiful game. This survey is a powerful indication that this passion is shared by hundreds of thousands of parents.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for us all to work together to further establish football to be as accessible and fun for young people as we can, removing any barriers which girls may have faced in the past.”

Gavin Newlands, SNP Westminster Spokesperson for Sport, said: “There is clear evidence that young girls aged 15 and under are less likely to take part in physical activities than boys and therefore we all need to do more to encourage girls to become involved in sports like football.

“Becoming active and involved in sport helps to improve your health and fitness levels. Parents have an important role in encouraging children to become involved in sport, not only making sure they enjoy the full range of benefits that sport brings, but because it’s fun!”

For more information on SSE’s women’s football sponsorships and activities visit: 

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