A Nottinghamshire independent school has announced plans to launch a girls’ football academy.
Worksop College Girls’ Football Academy, set to open in September, will offer training and sporting pathways to female players aged 16-18.
The new facility boasts a strong teaching pedigree. Paul Wilkinson, a two-time winner of the old First Division with Everton, has been appointed academy director, while an all-time-great of the women’s game will also partner with the academy. Jill Scott has played more than 150 times for England, as well as wining the Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Cup (four times) in the domestic game.
With women and girls playing football in unprecedented numbers – there has been a 54% increase in affiliated women’s and girls’ teams in the last five years – infrastructure has struggled to keep up, according to Worksop College’s head of sports performance, Ian Parkin.
“For years the focus has been heavily weighted towards the men’s game in terms of media coverage, coaching and finance,” he said.
“The systems are there for boys to play football at the level that their ability and skill warrants, with academies, shadow squads, top grassroots sides and private boys’ academies flooding the market – the same is true of sixth form colleges offering dual education and sporting pathways. This doesn’t exist for women in the same way.”
Thus, the establishment of the academy, bidding to add to a recent school sporting legacy including England cricket captain, Joe Root, and three of the GB men’s team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Worksop College will launch its girls’ football academy in partnership with Jill Scott
“At Worksop College, we believe there is a genuine need and requirement for a football product linked with quality education”, added Parkin. “Girls at 16 who are aspirational of a career in the game simply need more touches, the right physiological, tactical and technical back-up to get them closer to the finished article.”
Having Scott on the staff in a hands-on role, he said, would be a “huge inspiration, offering our girls the best possible chances of success”. “If you can see it, you can be it,” he added.
Scott commented: “As a girl growing up in a football-mad city (Sunderland), all I ever wanted was to have the same chance to take part and excel as the boys. I needed something just like this at 15/16 years old to take me to the next level, and it simply was not available.
“Worksop College has a history of producing professional sportspeople, so I’m confident they know what they’re doing. As I reach the twilight of my career, I want to give back to the game that has given me so much.”
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