Women's football match

Women’s football in the UK soared in popularity following the monumental efforts of the Lionesses during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Despite losing gallantly to Spain in the final, England’s best and brightest women inspired a new generation to take up the sport for the first time. 

If you or your child is one of those who was inspired to get involved, this guide is for you. While women’s football is still badly underfunded, it’s easier than ever to find opportunities to play, learn and develop!

Understanding the Women’s Talent Pathway

The path to becoming a pro footballer generally starts at the under-14 level for women in England. However, the sooner you or your child can get involved in local competitions or at school, the better she’ll be equipped to succeed once the more formal development begins. 

The National Talent Camp is there to identify under-14s and under-15s who have the potential to reach the international level. Unfortunately, players are selected to attend the camp. But those who are successful will get the chance to play with the game's leading coaches and pros. 

National Talent Camps are residential programmes that take place during the traditional football season. Those fortunate enough to get spotted by scouts will gain access to a series of technical, physical and emotional support mechanisms – accelerating their development and improving their chances of fulfilling their potential. 

Those who catch the eye of the FA’s scouts will then have the chance to progress through the various ranks: 

  • Women’s U-16 England team
  • Women’s U-17 England team
  • Professional Development Phase
  • Women’s U-18 England 
  • Women’s U-19 England team
  • Women’s U-20 England team
  • The senior Women’s England team

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before you can even begin to think about earning a place at the FA’s National Talent Camp, you’ll need to excel in grassroots football. 

Find Local Clubs and Programmes

While there aren’t nearly enough playing opportunities for girls and women in England, the situation is improving over time. If you’re new to the game, there are a few opportunities to get started.

Join a Local Club or Program

Find and join local women's or girls' football clubs and community programmes. Use platforms like England Football to locate clubs near you that offer competitive matches and training sessions.

Participate in FA Initiatives

Enquire about programmes and initiatives supported by The Football Association, which aims to enhance grassroots development through investments in facilities, coaching and participation opportunities. You’ll find some great advice on the Get Involved page of the FA’s website. 

Attend FA Charter Standard Clubs

Look for FA Charter Standard clubs, which are recognised for providing quality coaching, administration and child protection standards. Contact your local league or FA for more information on these clubs.

Volunteer or Become a Coach

Explore opportunities to get involved as a coach, referee or volunteer in female grassroots football. Training and certification courses are available through the FA to support these roles.

Engage with Weetabix Wildcats

For younger girls, the Weetabix Wildcats program provides fun football sessions designed to encourage girls aged 5-11 to get involved in football in a friendly, pressure-free environment.

Join Competitions and Leagues

Enter women's leagues and competitions that are open to clubs competing in the top division of a women's County League or higher. This can provide more structured and competitive playing opportunities.

Fortunately, the number of local competitions and grassroots football leagues for women in England is on the rise. Here are just a few of the opportunities available right now.

Local and Regional Leagues

Many local football associations organise leagues that cater to different age groups and skill levels. These leagues provide regular competitive matches and help in the development of players at the grassroots level.

Women's FA Cup

The Women's FA Cup is the largest and most prestigious domestic competition in English women's football. It is open to teams from various tiers, allowing grassroots clubs the opportunity to compete against higher-level teams and gain valuable experience.

Junior Grassroots Tournaments

There are many grassroots football tournaments specifically for girls, with over 300 registered events across the UK. These tournaments are excellent for young players to showcase their skills and enjoy the competitive spirit of the game.

Specialised Events and Festivals

Events like Girls United FA tournaments are designed to be large-scale grassroots women's tournaments, aiming to include more teams and players each year. These events foster a community atmosphere and encourage broader participation.

Club-Organized Tournaments

Many local clubs host their own tournaments and mini-soccer festivals that feature girls-only sections. These events provide a platform for local talent to compete and develop in a supportive environment.

Now’s the Time to Get Involved in Grassroots Girls’ Football

The success of the Women’s Super League and the rise of the England Women’s Football Team are both having a positive effect on playing opportunities for girls. Stock up on essential football equipment, and begin your personal journey today.