International Women's Day

Brighton giving Lexi the chance to realise football dreams

8 Mar 2022

How Albion in the Community are using the PL/PFA Community Fund to encourage girls to play the game they love

Related Articles
International Women’s Day: Fern Whelan visits AITC girls session External Link
Women of Watford breaking down barriers for female fans
'Football can influence society and break the gender bias'

This International Women's Day, we are hearing from fans, community participants and inspiring women working in football to see how the Premier League and our clubs are working to promote gender equality in the game.

Brighton & Hove Albion

When former Brighton and England defender Fern Whelan was growing up, opportunities to play football and develop her skills with other girls were few.

But pathways for girl footballers have improved significantly and Whelan recently saw how on a visit to a bespoke coaching session for girls. 

"I can't stress enough how important the pathway is for females to be able to see where they can go and where they can develop within the game," Whelan says at the session funded by the Premier League Professional Footballers' Association Community Fund and delivered by Brighton's Albion in the Community (AitC).

"When I started playing, there was nothing like this. I was only one girl with a whole load of boys. At the time there were a lot more barriers and hopefully now there aren't as many."

Addressing local needs

The PL/PFA Community Fund has allowed clubs across England and Wales deliver projects responding to local needs for the last 13 years.

"We are trying to recreate the structure the boys have in place," says Nathan Casselton, AitC's women and girls development officer. "The Premier League and PFA have been brilliant.

"We've definitely seen a massive increase in participation levels. The funding has enabled us to create more sessions across Sussex and to provide more opportunities."

Football pathways

Whelan met Lexi, one of the young people who is benefitting from this opportunity by attending weekly coaching sessions.

"It really helps me because the coaches all know what I'm capable of so they know exactly what to teach me," Lexi says.

"It's amazing because 20 or 30 years ago, girls weren't really privileged to be footballers, it was all right for boys, and even me, I've been told that girls won't play football, but my mum's always encouraged me to just keep going and don't let anyone turn you down."

Also in this series

Part 2: Women of Watford breaking down barriers for female fans
Part 3: 'Football can influence society and break the gender bias'
Part 4: How Mariela became Norwich's scouting pioneer
Part 5: Crystal Palace offer Lauren chance to follow her dream

Latest Videos

More Videos