Panathlon has formed a new partnership with the Youth Sport Trust and the FA Girls’ Partnerships to inspire a new generation of girls with disabilities and special needs to fall in love with football.
Panathlon’s girls’ football programme has been running since 2016 and we have recently re-shaped the offering to enable it to be delivered in schools while complying with Covid-19 restrictions.
Our partners at Bolton Wanderers Community Trust have helped us produce instruction videos to deliver activities that can either be led by school staff or by an external leader from Panathlon, the Youth Sports Trust or elsewhere.
As pandemic rules hopefully ease by the autumn term, there will be football festivals involving girls with SEND from across multiple London Boroughs.
Linking up with the Youth Sports Trust enables us to use their five Inclusion Leads across London and the 19 FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships across the capital to embed the programme in schools where it’s most needed.
The FA Girls’ School Partnerships aim to provide girls with equal access to football as boys by 2024. This project will not only provide great impetus towards that goal, but also tie in with next summer’s European Women’s Football Championship, held in England.
“We recognised that Panathlon had an established girls’ football programme in place and thought that by working collaboratively we could further develop participation across London,” said the Youth Sport Trust’s Partnership Manager, Mark Needham.
“Football is the national game and a very powerful tool that can inspire girls, increase confidence, develop life and learning skills, work on mental health, resilience, teamwork and communication – all of which are more likely to be at lower levels now than before Covid.
“We’re ultimately trying to position the programme so that it can be tailored towards individual schools’ needs and the young people they want to target. It’s about identifying a group of girls and using our football programme as a vehicle to meet their needs.
“Before Covid struck, we may have only delivered this externally, but I like the idea of it being delivered in schools initially so teachers can identify those young people who will benefit the most.”
Nick Miller, School Games Organiser and YST Inclusion Lead for Central London, added: “We are really excited to be working with Panathlon on the development of this project.
“Panthalon has a great reputation and track record of providing high-quality physical activity and sporting opportunities which, combined with our knowledge of football, is a winning formula for a successful programme for young people with SEND.
“Whether running a face-to-face festival or footballing activity for students in school, I know the new resources will be eagerly received by schools and FA Girls’ Football Partnerships.
“The programme will give girls with SEND the best chance to experience football in school, as well as the opportunity to participate, lead and compete – giving them fantastic access to the national game.”
Tony Waymouth, Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer, added: “The girls’ football SEND project is focused on inspiring a new generation of girls to get active and fall in love with football.
“Over the past few years, Panathlon’s girls’ football programme has taken root and numbers have grown. This year’s development, partnering with the YST Inclusion Leads, will really enrich choice for girls with disabilities and special needs across the capital.
“We know football can offer girls so much from sheer enjoyment, to encouraging healthy lifestyles and more importantly making friends and breaking down barriers. Unlocking these opportunities will help maximise the showcase for female participation offered by next summer’s Women’s Euros, create a strong legacy and ensure that football becomes a lifelong choice.”
Thank you to the project’s principal supporter the Jack Petchey Foundation.