Gemma Clare sees first-hand the evolution of girls' football
Transformation of girls' football is underway
Gemma Clare has seen the transformation of girls’ football in this country in the last decade.
The 23-year-old is the coach of Cambridge City under-14s and plays for the club’s ladies’ team, having previously appeared for Cambridge Women and represented England Colleges.
And Clare has seen plenty of changes in the intervening years from when she was a junior.
“I was probably one of the only girls within a group of boys and now the girls are as young as six and eight being able to play with no care whatsoever who they’re playing with,” said Clare.
“And they have got so many more opportunities, like football at lunchtimes, football after school, out of school clubs as well, which you never had about six or eight years ago.
“I think quite a bit of it has been word of mouth so when one girl starts at one school, it triggers a lot more. But there has also been a lot more on basic TV.
“So you have had all the women’s World Cup, that was huge and everyone was watching that and I think that promoted it quite a lot as well.”
But Clare can still see areas where girls’ football has to make up ground to be level with their male counterparts.
“I think it’s still lacking behind local boys’ football,” she said.
“In boys’ football, you’ve probably got a team at every age group in every village whereas in girls’ football you still might have to travel that little bit further than what a young boy would have to.
“So I think ideally for girls locally, you’d still want more teams popping up in all the villages so you wouldn’t have to travel as far to get your once or twice a week training and a regular match.
“On a bigger level, the academies are things to aspire to. We’ve got some really good players and they don’t have that next step, they don’t have that bit to move on to.
“I think maybe if you could have that next step to move to you would get more girls involved and really committed to it and wanting to carry it on so they would have somewhere to go rather than just sticking and trying to be a success at their own club.”