New plans to ensure "every woman or girl inspired by the Lionesses has the chance to play football" have been announced.
While the men's game has gone from strength-to-strength over recent years – with several island players going on to gain professional contracts in the UK and the Bulls emerging onto the scene in 2018 – there has been less investment in the women's game.
The female league currently has just four teams registered, with one local player – Libby Barnett – saying that the sport has been "catastrophically under-supported and under-valued for decades".
But now the Government has confirmed that funding from the 'Connect Me: Connecting our Communities' micro-grant scheme, which supports projects focusing on improving people's mental or physical health, has been made available to the Jersey Football Association. The funds will be used to appoint a Football Development Officer, with the specific remit of increasing the number of women and girls playing the sport.
The new role – backed by over £20,000 of Government funding – will be developed to support clubs to expand their current offering to players and coaches, while also aiming to engage with minority groups, such as the Portuguese community, families on low income and anybody requiring additional support following the pandemic.
JFA Chief Executive David Kennedy said: "As the only sports body in Jersey to have achieved the UK Equality Standard for Sport, we pride ourselves on our diverse offering to ensure football in Jersey is for all.
"We want to ensure that every woman or girl inspired by the Lionesses has the chance to play football locally, enhancing both their physical and mental health.
"We are incredibly thankful to the Jersey government for approving this funding application, which enables us to recruit a designated women and girls' football development officer to help us reach our target of significantly increasing female participation."
Currently, the JFA delivers a participation programme for girls aged five to 11, including after-school clubs and holiday camps. However, clubs in the women's league have often reported having difficulty recruiting and retaining players.
#Jersey FA is looking to recruit an Equal Game Ambassador!— Jersey Football Association ???????? (@JerseyFA) August 29, 2023
If you have a passion for women and girls' #football, this may be the perfect opportunity for you.
Find out more and apply ⬇️ https://t.co/xgBEPlEDAa pic.twitter.com/AWXXjmEXRo
Libby Barnett, a member of the Jersey squad at the recent NatWest Island Games, said: "The World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events and the hype and viewing stats throughout the summer prove themselves just how many people were captivated by the tournament.
"The hope, like any sporting spectacle, is that people will be inspired by watching an event of this magnitude and get involved themselves. Whether that be playing, coaching, officiating or just generally volunteering in local sport; we hope that we will see a positive impact here in Jersey, too.
"The Jersey FA also provide subsidies through the FA which are available for females who would like to progress through their coaching or refereeing journey. The female football community are a friendly and close-knit group with some great male and female mentors who will support your club journey throughout.
"I just hope Islanders have been inspired by the Lionesses efforts on and off the field and now want to be a part of it too.
"Female sport has been catastrophically under-supported and under-valued for decades but we're not settling for anything less than better any more. It's not demanded, it's deserved. Funding, promotion, sponsorship, commentary, equity, coverage and rights – we are just asking to be acknowledged and respected. Success will look like a positive impact on all these things and more, and I can't wait to see it."
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