Football chance for Staffordshire mums

Staffordshire FA has launched a new 'Mums Play Football' initiative to help women across the county to fit a regular kickabout into their busy lives. 

The weekly sessions are aimed at beginners over the age of 16 and are based at nine centres around Staffordshire including Stoke, Stafford, Burton-on-Trent and Wolverhampton. 

Bethan Woolley, Staffordshire FA Football Development Officer (Inclusion), told ConnectSport: "It's not too competitive, it's aimed at beginners and creating a fun, social environment where the ladies can keep fit, make friends and enjoy themselves. 

"Most of the ladies who come along were never provided with the opportunity to start playing football when they were in school. For them football has predominantly meant taking their children to matches or seeing their husbands or partners go off to play at weekends. Now it's their turn." 

Sessions at the Mums Play Football centres are weekly but flexible, with no commitment involved so players can turn up or miss sessions depending on their own personal commitments. 

"The enthusiasm for the programme has been overwhelming," said Woolley. "One lady, for example, had been struggling with anxiety and initially didn’t have the confidence to turn up and play. She has overcome that now and is going to be the captain of the second team. She's loving it, her confidence is flourishing and she's excelling at football." 

Mums Play Football builds on strong existing female participation across the county with the Staffordshire FA Ladies Over-30s league now into its second season with over 160 players involved. 

That too fits around participants' busy schedules with one seven-a-side fixture per month, plus training sessions in between. 

Theresa Hilton, who joined the programme last year, commented: “It’s amazing. It gets me out of the house but works around my work and childcare commitments. It's improved my fitness whilst giving me the opportunity to meet new people and enjoy a sport I previously felt excluded from."