Women's football comes home to Essex with new FA centre

  • Date

    Mon 5 Sep 22

Essex student and Ipswich striker Maddie Biggs

Football has come home to the University of Essex – with future Lionesses to reap the benefits of an exciting partnership with the FA.

The announcement comes weeks after England Women’s side inspired a generation of girls to follow their sporting dreams by winning the 2022 European Championship at Wembley

Today the University of Essex can announce it is the newest FA Women’s High Performance Football Centre which aims to increase the number of women and girls in the sport to create a world-class talent pipeline from grassroots to elite level.

The facility will be a thriving hub development for the Eastern Region – with talent drawn from, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

More than £80,000 of funding has been awarded to Essex over the next two years, as one of two new centres along with Birmingham City University, in a national network of ten universities.

FA Women’s Pathway Coach Developer Lead, Abbie Sadler said: “It’s brilliant to add two new partners to our Women’s High Performance Football Centres offering at universities.

“The opportunities the programme creates will be invaluable to coaches and the wider workforce wanting to take their next steps in women’s football.

“We are also thrilled to have also extended our partnership with all the universities we work with for another two years and cannot wait to continue the great work in the women’s and girls’ game.

“With 10 centres across the country, there’s real depth and breadth to the programme and opportunities for coaches nationwide.”

Working with clubs and players from the grassroots level up to elite internationals the centre will provide a hub to recruit and develop coaches who will spearhead development in the women’s and girls’ games.

The move will strengthen the University’s existing partnerships with clubs like Ipswich Town, Billericay Town, Hashtag United and AFC Sudbury.

Students will gain hands-on football coaching experience – with work placements in coaching, sports science, and sports therapy.

This will boost employability and lay the groundwork for burgeoning careers in women’s football.

The link to Ipswich Town will also build on the support that Essex provides as one of 12 universities nationally that support Women’s Super League Academies.

Ipswich Town centre forward Maddie Biggs, also a student in the School of Sport, Rehabilitation, and Exercise Sciences at Essex, praised the move.

She said: “This is a golden opportunity for women’s football after the Euro final win.

“If you think about the number of people at the stadium and watching the win at home on the TV, it just shows there is interest in the game.

“There are girls now who will be given the opportunity to play football at school and this is a chance to really grow the game.

“I’m proud my university and club are working to open doors and inspire the next generation of players.”

The university will also be coordinating a new regional women’s goalkeeping centre to develop and nurture talent.

Dr Dave Parry, director of Sport, praised the move and says he is looking forward to working with the next generation of coaches.

He said: “We are delighted to have been selected by the FA to be one of their Women’s High Performance Football Centres.

“The success of the Lionesses at the Euros has inspired the whole country, and there really couldn’t be a better time to partner with the FA on the next phase of growing the women’s game and developing coaches and support staff.

“We’ll be forging new links across the region, as well as deepening our existing partnerships with clubs and schools, which will provide opportunities for our students to gain experience and apply the knowledge they have gained through their studies in an applied setting.

“We are very excited about the opportunities that this new partnership presents, and, who knows, perhaps we can help develop the next Sarina Wiegman!”

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