Funding from BUCS and The FA will be provided to nine universities to generate new participants and upskill the student workforce.

The projects are institution led and have a focus that is a priority at both the university and the wider community. Projects this year range from a league focussed on engaging with historically underrepresented groups, a localised Women’s Leadership Programme in a Women’s Euros host city and a student led outreach project supporting refugees in the community.

University of Hull - Football Leadership Programme

The University of Hull Football Leadership programme is a workforce development initiative geared on developing students into the next generation of football coaches and referees to service the game at the University of Hull. Supporting and promoting student involvement through Hull Sport and their partner, Cottingham Rangers - the region's largest grassroots football team.

University of Sunderland - Developing refugee football within the City of Sunderland

The project aims are to create opportunities and pathways in football to allow hard to reach groups the opportunity to participate in football from grassroots level to reach their maximum potential giving them an opportunity to be in a higher education environment, integrating all players in line with their widening participation strategy. They aim to target refugee groups across the city, of which there were over 500 claiming asylum as of December 2020.

Royal Holloway University of London - Developing the women’s football pathway

Creating an inclusive student focussed football community at Royal Holloway University connecting all who enjoy being involved in the football through growing and transitioning the women's football offer and having a fit for purpose workforce. They will look to do this by introducing sessions for those that have never had an opportunity to play football and starting a small-sided women’s campus league. All these programmes will also provide opportunities for women to develop their leadership, coaching and officiating skills through becoming part of their paid or voluntary workforce.

University of Exeter - Disability Pitch up and Play

To launch disability football formats into their Pitch up and Play programme. They want current students to have the opportunity to gain a suitable qualification, to ensure they would be able to deliver appropriate and inclusive sessions to the community of Exeter. These sessions could be deaf football, power chair football and blind football. Football has the incredible power to bring people together, eradicate social barriers and be a force for good. The university will be working with Devon FA and Exeter City Community Trust.

University Academy 92 - Inclusive women’s football in Manchester

UA92’s project aims to increase the number of women and girls in historically underrepresented groups playing football through structured coaching sessions, delivered by qualified student coaches. This project will target areas of deprivation within Manchester and will work to provide positive role models for female participants from ethnic minorities to inspire lifelong participation. A key part of the project will be working with Manchester FA to provide pathways for the participants to continue participating in football beyond this year.

Canterbury Christ Church University - Women’s futsal development programme

To develop a workforce of female coaches, referees and playmakers that will foster a sustainable offer of women’s futsal participation at Canterbury Christ Church University and support the provision of women’s futsal in the Canterbury community. Through the development of a workforce for futsal, with a focus on upskilling females, Canterbury Christ Church will deliver free Pick up and Play sessions for female students on-campus. This will create a pathway not only to a new women’s futsal club starting this year, but also to opportunities in the community, such as a recreational women’s futsal league, and a Kent futsal festival.

Sheffield Hallam University - Women's Football Leadership Academy

The SHU Women's Football Leadership Academy is an opportunity for women of Sheffield Hallam University to join the football workforce and influence this generation and the next to participate in football, whilst also developing themselves as strong leaders. Selected participants will be supported through their chosen qualification (Introduction to Football Coaching/The FA Referee Course) through funding, CPD sessions and allocation of a mentor to guide them through their leadership journey.

University of the West of England - Developing football provision for the NFI (Nationalities, Faiths, Identities) community

UWE Bristol are aiming to increase the sense of belonging from students that identify with NFI and/or international students through a new intramural football league. The project will use football as a catalyst for cultural exchange, building bridges between societies and promoting mutual understanding and respect. Additionally, the university upskill and increase the student workforce; including coaches and referees to create positive role models and leaders within the NFI community.

University of East Anglia - Breaking barriers in the women’s game

UEA are running a dual-purpose project. One element of the project is to run bi-weekly pan disability sessions to offer inclusive football opportunities for both UEA students and members of the local community. The second element of the project is to remove barriers for UEA students to start taking part in recreational level women’s football via their turn up and play initiative. Both elements of the project will be underpinned by a drive to increase the female women’s football workforce to support these sessions.

If you would like to find out more about any of the projects or to get involved, please contact Football Development Officer Sean Lofting.

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