Ballard has been recognised by the nationwide scheme that aims to make football mainstream for girls in schools, as it is for boys. Through this initiative, the FA is working towards a goal of giving every girl equal access to the sport in school games lessons by 2024.
The FA partnership initiative includes extended training for staff at Ballard, training activities, and challenges. It also involves forging links with local clubs to encourage more girls into the sport, both in school and in the community.
This partnership work has been developed by School Voluntary Community Officer Megan Smith, who played for Chelsea FC Women and in the USA, and PE teacher, Abbie Vernon. Megan has also been a coach and worked in roles developing women’s and girls’ football.
Megan Smith said:
“Women’s football has grown enormously in recent years and it is so important that girls can play and enjoy the sport from a young age. Ballard is leading the way in making sure all their pupils can take part in football – not just the boys.”
Girls Football is now a major part of what Ballard Sport offers pupils, alongside the traditional sports of hockey and netball. There are opportunities to learn and play the game in extra-curricular clubs, and for girls in Years 3-8 in their PE lessons, too. For example, girls in Years 3 and 4 have formed teams which will compete each week in circuits, set drills, and small-sided games in their PE lessons. The eventual winners will lift the Girls’ Power Trophy at the end of term. It is proving really popular with our pupils:
“I like how much opportunity there is for girls and not just boys to play football. I like how it is taught – there’s a balance of skills and games. I like just being taught with other girls.” said a 7 year old pupil
“I enjoy all parts of the girl’s football. I like playing the games and learning new skills. I like getting muddy.” 9 year old pupil
“At my old school the boys wouldn’t let me play football, here we all play together as they respect the fact that we can play well too.” 11 year old pupil
Girls playing football competitively is a key component, adds Director of Sport, Justin Whitbread:
“We have fixtures and festivals planned to establish Ballard as the home of Independent School Football in the area for girls.
“We already provide the opportunity to play mixed football until Year 8, and some girls have played for the boys’ teams in friendlies and the Jersey Festival of Sport.
“At Ballard, we believe all sports are for everyone, girls and boys, of all ages and abilities. The benefits of taking part are enormous. Sport keeps us healthy, develops our communication and team skills, and builds our resilience and character; that’s why we feel it is vital that sports are all-inclusive and equal access at our School.”
Ballard is home to many accomplished footballers. Aurelia and Cassia Sexton-Chadwick both made the regional Prep School Lions team, while Hannah Hughes in Year 11 is in her fifth year at AFC Bournemouth. Many Ballard girls play for local teams in many age groups through to Year 11.