By Lewis Wiseman

There are many options for a young girl to choose from to fill their spare time. Going into her first week of high school in September, Laura Fiddes had to decide what extra-curricular activity to take up.

Inspired by her PE lessons at primary school, Laura chose up football.

In 2016 The Football Association (FA) released details of their plan to grow the women’s game – Gameplan for Growth: The Strategy for Women’s and Girls Football 2017-2020. In it, the governing body outlined eight priorities to help double participation within the game, with one of those being to develop participation opportunities and infrastructure.

This involved ‘launching a new curriculum-based football programme to be embedded in PE lessons’, with the plan to focus the lessons on teamwork and character development. After experiencing this in her lessons, Laura explained: “It was so much fun, I wanted to improve and carry on playing because I enjoyed it so much.” 

Laura in action for Axbridge.

After asking her parents to play, Laura joined her local club in Axbridge, Somerset, in the U13 girls team, and despite being new to the team highlighted how great the comradery was. Laura said: “Everyone is really good friends and we all support each other, which makes it easier and more comfortable for me to play.”

With the goal to double participation numbers by 2020, it’s clear that the scheme introduced to PE lessons in schools across the country can help achieve that.

Laura’s mum, Kate, thinks the introduction of football into PE lessons and encouraging girls to get involved has been a great idea.

She said: “Honestly, I think it’s brilliant. When I grew up it was definitely a male sport, only the lads played football at lunchtime. I’m so happy that my daughter can play at school and get involved; it’s obvious she loves the game and it’s great that she was introduced to football during school.”

For girls like Laura, and many others in England, the chance to play football at school shows they can have fun with their friends, keep fit and pursue a career in football to the highest level.

For now, though, Laura just wants to have fun, keep getting better, and hopefully rack up a few goals. She finished: “If I score a goal I might do one of those side kick jumps as my celebration!”