12:00PM, Friday 05 August 2022
Marlow FC chairman Ian Benfell is certain the Lionesses’ triumph in the Euro 2022 final will encourage more girls to get involved with their local football club and the Blues are more than happy to cater for the demand.
Many are hoping one of the legacies of England’s dramatic victory over Germany on Sunday will be that it inspires many more people to watch, play and follow women's football.
Captain Leah Williamson urged fans to get out and support their Women’s Super League (WSL) clubs, but community clubs also want to improve their engagement with women and girls and provide opportunities for them to play the game.
Benfell said: “Do we hope the Lionesses’ win will spark interest? Absolutely and I’d certainly say we’re the only club locally that caters for girls across all age groups.
“We take girls from five-years-old up to 16-years-old. They begin with playing for fun and when they have developed their skills and love of the game, they are able to play competitively in a league just like the boys do.
“Marlow FC girls are also a Wildcats centre, the only one locally. The Wildcats is a program for young girls [aged five to 11] who have never played football before or want the opportunity to play with other girls their age.
“Now, we also cater for girls who want to play with boys. If that’s what makes them happy, we are all for it. We don’t force them to go one way or the other, it’s down to the girl herself or her family.
“We don’t turn anyone away. Whoever wants to come and get involved we welcome with open arms. Some try it, decide it’s not for them and then move onto something else which is completely fine. Others stay and stay for a long time which is great.”
Along with a growth in participation, Benfell also believes there will be an influx in new spectators at girls matches.
“We definitely now get a lot more parents that are coming and attending home matches as a result of their girls being involved with playing,” he added. We will be holding an event following on from the Lionesses’ success and will be issuing details in due course.”