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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Former Lioness Jill Scott joins with Starling Bank to boost young girls in football across UK

Jill Scott encouraging young girls to get involved in the game.

Nearly a third of girls who play football (30%) stop playing by the time they reach their late teens, new findings from Starling Bank reveal. This is in comparison to one in ten boys (10%).

A quarter of girls (27%) hang up their boots due to pressures to do well at school, while others quit because of insecurities about their body image (14%), being bullied for playing (8%) and not seeing a clear career pathway into the sport (18%).

Football coaches note the drop off in girls’ participation too; a separate survey of 411 girls’ football coaches found that just 6% of their players continue the sport into adulthood. The findings also highlight that a smaller number of girls play the game to begin with, as 39% of girls say they have never played football compared to 12% of boys. 

Jill Scott holding football.

Of the Under 16s girls that have quit the sport, half (48%) say they would keep playing if they could overcome the barriers they face, amounting to an estimated 200,000 girls in the UK whose ambitions have been cut short.

Jill Scott MBE, former Lioness and Starling Bank ambassador said:

“Hundreds of thousands of girls have had to give up football, despite wanting to carry on. Any one of them could have been a future Lioness. The surge in girls wanting to play the game is really encouraging, but if we can’t make girls feel welcome on the pitch and keep them playing, it’s game over for the Lionesses’ legacy.” 

To support girls through their adolescent years, more than two-thirds of girls’ clubs offer alternative colours to white shorts (69%), while 45% offer kit tailored for girls and 37% make sanitary products available. Coaches recognise the importance of good mental health too; 43% have regular conversations about it with their team. 

Coaches also recognise that girls receive fewer opportunities to play nationally and are making efforts to recruit more girls to their teams (80%), and put on more training opportunities for girls (72%).

But coaches want more support for girls’ football ambitions and believe this starts at home. Boys are twice as likely as girls to receive strong encouragement to play football from their parents, adults at schools and clubs (41% versus 21%).

Jill Scott demonstrating football skills to young girls

Coaches also say that many girls (34%) stop playing when they go through puberty because of body changes. They also say that girls need to be made to feel as welcome on the pitch as boys (30%) in order to keep them in the game.


Kick On with Starling Phase Two 

Following the Lionesses’ success at the UEFA Women’s EUROS 2022, and the launch of Starling Bank’s Kick On initiative earlier this year, alongside the UEFA Women's World Cup 2023, Starling Bank has launched phase two of Kick On to help boost girls’ involvement in football. The bank is giving away £200,000 worth of kit, equipment and coaching vouchers to grassroots football clubs with girls or women’s teams through its partner Gift of Kit. One team will win a talk with Jill Scott MBE on how young girls can gain their football confidence and believe their worth on the pitch.

For the first time, the kit giveaway will include sports bras, after previous winners of Starling’s Kick On giveaway requested them. Girls and womens’ teams can apply on the Kick On web page (4).

Jill Scott continued: “It wasn’t until Chloe Kelly’s iconic goal in the EURO 22 final that many people realised how integral sports bras are to women’s kit. Having the right kit is everything; it’s great to see more options available for players everywhere.”

Rachel Kerrone, Brand & Marketing Director at Starling Bank adds: “Our commitment to women’s football at Starling doesn’t stop at getting girls on the pitch, we want to help them stay there. The reality is that the glass ceiling still exists for women and girls in sport and Kick On with Starling Bank is chipping away at the barriers bit by bit.” 

Jonathan Green, co-founder and COO at Gift of Kit said: “Matching kit is about so much more than optics, it boosts players’ confidence, commitment and morale. The more teams we support with kit, equipment and coaching, the more players we can keep on the pitch.”

Jill Scott with young girls playing football

Further stats from the research

  • 43% of girls aged 11-16 play football, compared to 79% of boys

  • 69% of girls aged 11-16 believe boys are encouraged more to play football, compared to 53% of boys

  • 8% of girls aged 11-16 say a barrier to them playing football is due to a lack of role models, compared to 3% of boys

  • 48% of coaches say fewer girls are quitting football since the Women’s EUROS 2022 due to greater media coverage of Women’s football

  • 59% of coaches say that fewer than 10% of girls see a career for themselves in football

  • 15 -17 years-old: are the ages at which girls are most likely to stop playing, according to 72% of the coaches surveyed. 


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