Most parents happy to see girls pursue football career, study finds

Most parents would be happy for their daughter to pursue a career in football. Picture: Michael Gillen
Most parents would be happy for their daughter to pursue a career in football. Picture: Michael Gillen
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The majority of parents would be happy for their daughter to pursue a career in football, according to a survey which found an attitude shift towards the game.

Younger parents, aged under 40, were found to be particularly leading the way in promoting the game to their daughters while starting between the ages of five and seven was identified as the most popular time to start playing.

While a quarter of parents said they would “actively encourage” their daughter to play football, more than 60 per cent said they would be happy for their daughter to pursue a career in football as a player, coach or administrator.

More than 60 per cent also disagreed that football is a sport for boys in the UK-wide survey of more than 2,000 parents commissioned by SSE, sponsors of the Women’s FA Cup and Scottish Women’s Cup.

Donald Gillies, head of women’s football at the Scottish FA, said: “We greatly welcome the findings of this research as it corroborates and expands on the direction of development we are taking the girls’ and women’s game in Scotland along with our partners at SSE.

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“We aim to speak to parents to tell them how welcoming and nurturing football can be for their daughters, and that it can provide an environment that will benefit them for a lifetime.”

The majority of parents said they want their children to be involved in as much sport as possible, with schools viewed as the most important factor in encouraging girls into football.

Team work, fitness, self-confidence and increased self-esteem were identified by parents in the report as benefits of football for girls.

Holyrood sport minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “It is encouraging to see the increased enthusiasm of parents for their daughters to participate in sport generally, and in football in particular.

“The benefits of sport and physical activity are clear through improved physical and mental health and confidence.

“The Scottish Government strongly supports women and girls’ football, and I am determined to see the game grow at all levels. I particularly want to see more girls playing.”

Colin Banks, SSE head of sponsorship and reward, said: “At SSE we’re passionate about women’s football and the growth of girls participating in the beautiful game, as demonstrated by our longstanding partnerships with the FA and Scottish FA and our many grassroots programmes.

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“Our first-ever SSE girls sport participation survey is a powerful indication that this passion is shared by hundreds of thousands of parents across the country.

“It has revealed a step change in the attitudes parents have towards football in the context of their daughters playing, watching and working in the sport, and significantly this is being driven by a new generation of younger mums and dads.”