Arsenal player takes part in girls-only football sessions in Neasden

Week-long event held to attract more females to the sport

A team GB and Arsenal player put the next generation of female footballers through their paces during a girls-only sports week in Neasden.

Rachel Yankey MBE took part in the event held to attract more girls age between five to 13 to the game by creating a pressure-free environment without boys.

Funded by Fair Share Trust Brent, the initiative was launched by Miss Yankey at the Unity Centre in Church Road, Harlesden, and the sessions kept at the Gibbon Wreckers Football Youth Club in Bridge Road.

Up to 20 girls a day from the Church End and Roundwood area had access to experienced female coaches and learned new skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting and even which parts of their feet to use to control the ball.

Miss Yankey said: “The girls-only week helped them feel more comfortable about playing football. We would like more girls to get involved, have fun and then possibly move on to join a football club.

“For the legacy of London 2012 to continue, we need to maintain the high standard of football displayed by the female football teams at the Olympics.”

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Manisha Tailor, one of the two female coaches who put the girls through their paces, said: “The girls liked the fact that it was a girls-only environment with female coaches. They enjoyed developing new skills, liked the team work and the fact it was a structured programme, which wasn’t just about playing competitive matches.”

Adding that there are still barriers to overcome before girls get to play extra-curricular football at the levels boys do, she said: “There are still challenges to overcome regarding girls’ participation in football outside of the school setting, which isn’t as strong. That is what needs to be built up and sustained.”

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