County FAs Embrace Women’s Social/Recreational Football!

This week, as the second Women’s Recreational Football Festival is being held at Sussex County FA, in Lancing, it’s even more clear that County FAs are really beginning to embrace Women’s Social/Recreational Football.  The new phenomenon, which is growing month by month, is enabling women who have never played the game before, or who have come back into the game after years, the chance to participate in the fun and fitness that can be enjoyed by kicking a ball around, regardless of their size, age or ability.   Clare Nichols from Sussex County FA is also involved with the local Sussex County Women and Girls Football League and after organising the first Festival, sees that there is a huge demand for this type of football, with another possible 6 additional teams to play in the second Festival.  In the space of a few months this is a remarkable increase in participation.

First ever Sussex Women’s Recreational Football Festival – July ’17.

Just over 10 days ago, approximately 100 women travelled to Canterbury to play in a Beginners’ Tournament for over 30s, which was organised by the Canterbury Old Bags (yes, we love that name too!) in conjunction with Kent FA.

All 10 teams had a great day at the Canterbury Old Bags’ Beginners/Over 30s’ Football Festival in conjunction with Kent FA.
3 COGS’ teams had a great day at the Canterbury Old Bags’ Tournament – Oct. ’17.

Jo Treharne set up the “Bags”, in January, after being inspired by the Crawley Old Girls.  After completing her FA Level 1, Jo got some ladies together to participate in some fun football and coaching.  This then led to 3 Old Bags’ teams playing in their own tournament, helped by Kent FA, who said they had never been involved in such an enjoyable tournament with everyone smiling!  They have now seen the effect of engaging in Women’s Social/Recreational Football and, without doubt, will be keen to replicate such a great day.

The first ever Women’s Social/Recreational Tournament was held at Powerleague, Wembley, in July 2016, for over 30s and was organised by Nicol Meredith of the EFL Trust.  That day in July was an extremely significant day, as 80 ladies (over 30) enjoyed the chance to play in their first ever tournament.  Since that day, the Crawley Old Girls, along with many others, have tried to spread the word of the amazing feeling of the “missed generation” who are now able to enjoy playing football.

The EFL Trust First Ever National Women’s Football Tournament at at Power League Wembley July 31, 2016.
Picture by James Boardman

In March this year, Surrey FA held their first Women’s Recreational Tournament in conjunction with the CPFC Life Foundation and invited teams they had help set up around Surrey.  The COGs took 2 teams and to see another 80 odd ladies smiling and playing football while being supported by their families and friends was brilliant to see.  So successful was their first tournament that another one was held 3 months later, which saw new teams and more enjoyable football played.  Roxanne Bennett (CPFC) and Emma Barnes (Surrey FA) have been great supporters of Recreational Football and new ladies are being encouraged all the time, who wouldn’t have been playing otherwise.

First ever Surrey FA & CPFC Life Foundation Women’s/Mums’ Social/Recreational Beginner’s Tournament – March ’17.
The second successful Women’s/Mums’ Social/Recreational Tournament – June ’17.

These three County FAs are all in the South of England but it was also fantastic to hear that Cheshire County FA delivered their first Women’s Recreational Beginners’ Football Festival, last month.  Such was the success of another 70 ladies taking part, it is hoped that more will follow.  Steph Knott is doing a fantastic job of promoting Women’s Recreational Football at Cheshire FA and we have no doubt these Festivals will become a regular thing.   The Llysfaen Lionesses, from Wales, even came over to play in the tournament, as they are the only team in Wales at the moment and are trying very hard to spread the word so they can play teams locally!

First ever Cheshire FA Recreational Festival for Beginners – September ’17.

Finally, only a couple of weeks ago we stumbled on a tweet from Flo Lunn, who works at Hampshire FA, to see that they had run a first session for Ladies Beginners’ Football where 15 ladies turned up!  Great stuff.

Hopefully, over the next year we’ll see more County FAs get involved in promoting this great opportunity for women who have little or no experience of playing football.  I could go on about the health benefits, well-being and confidence that learning to play football gives to all women who don’t think they fit the stereotype of being able to play but you only have to speak to the women involved to realise how much of a positive impact Recreational Football is having on their lives.  If you could bottle up the “buzz” that we’ve all felt from these Recreational Football Festivals, you’d be a millionaire!

We were given a great motto from our COGS’ Coach Marcus, which we think sums all this up.  “BE INSPIRED, BE INSPIRING”


All the ladies who get involved in Women’s Recreational Football, that we have met, have certainly inspired us, while we all continue to inspire each other.

Long may this continue!

If anyone would like to start up a session, either contact your local County FA or Professional Football Club and see what you can do.  It only takes one determined person (there are quite a few of those out there!) and next thing you know, you’ll be enjoying the amazing times that we’re already having.

Check out the rest of our website to see how “Old Girls” learning to play football has grown so much since that day in April 2015.

Carol Bates – COGS’ Founder.