As we all cheer on the rise of girls football, we’re going behind the scenes at Queen Ethelburga’s to find out how our schools can meet the new demand and achieve some fantastic goals

Supported by both excellent results by the Lionesses and an ambitious growth strategy by the FA, it is no surprise that women’s football was the fastest growing UK sport in 2023, according to the The Guardian. 
Since the 2022 Euro win, QE have seen a huge increase in the demand for girls’ football and so the decision was taken to separate the boys and girls football Performance Sport Pathway (PSP) to provide the girls’ team with their own dedicated coach who could fully get to know them as players, individuals and team members. 
As one Year 10 striker, Freya, says, “We pushed for PSP Girls Football and encouraged our friends to join so we could form a team but after the Euros, we suddenly had 4 teams; U13, U14, U15, U16!”  
U16 winger, Megan, who also plays for Clifford, adds, “I like being part of a non-main sports team. It promotes that we had a choice to play what we wanted to and not what was expected of us. Having our own coach has made such a difference because we study game scenarios like putting the ball through more defenders and reacting to losing the ball. He is great at reading our game and each of our abilities to help us find the right position and how to develop. We had skill before but not that much knowledge on how to apply it. Our team plays a cleaner game now.” 

“Having our own coach has made such a difference because we study game scenarios”

The PSP offers girls in Years 7-13 the choice to train weekly both within the PE curriculum lessons in the day and as a team after school. Each student benefits from an Individual Development Plan that comprises of coaching, nutrition, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, sports massage and the latest tactical, technical, physical and mental training. The programme allows for competing at a higher level and teaches responsibility, resilience, teamwork and leadership skills. It runs alongside a vast extra-curricular sport, activity and fitness programme and includes external talks and coaching sessions from scouts, coaches and industry professionals. 
Girls’ Football Coach, Sam Westhead says, “The reaction to the Girls’ PSP has been fantastic. Individually and collectively, the team have really developed through the amount of training and fixtures now on offer. The participation rates continue to grow, and we have entered multiple cup competitions across different age groups, where we have seen some really pleasing performances and results. I am looking forward to helping the girls continue the excellent progress they have made so far.”   
Lead Football Coach, Paul Bolland, comments, “Girls’ football continues to build momentum at QE, with lots of students taking advantage of curriculum lessons, activities and our PSP. The fantastic progress made has enabled us to play competitive fixtures in several national and local competitions this year, and I am excited to continue developing girls’ football at QE.” 
The PSP takes place in QE’s dedicated Sports Village on campus, which benefits from a 25-metre swimming pool, triple court sports hall, gym and specialist studios. Outside, there is a four-lane synthetic cushioned running track and over 30 acres of professional grass and 3G artificial pitches, which are used in the summer holidays by Premier League U18 teams. 
For more information about the Girls’ Football PSP at QE and scholarships for girls’ football, visit qe.org or email admissions@qe.org to book a private tour. 

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