The Rise and Rise of Ladies’ Social/Recreational Football – July 2017.

In just over 24 hours the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Competition will begin (for England & Scotland) and this year there may well be more and more Mums and “Old Girls” watching and supporting the Lionesses.  The reason:  more participation and engagement with these ladies who are now involved in Social/Recreational Football.

What is Ladies’ Social/Recreational Football?  You may well ask…..

Never has it been more apparent that women/girls/ladies (whatever you want to call us) just love to play football!  We’re not just talking about girls or ladies who play football every week for a Club, in a League, we are talking about the relatively new phenomenon of “Old” Girls, Mums and Ladies over 30 who just want to play for fun, while gaining skills and increasing their wellbeing.

Since the Crawley Old Girls (COGs) was set up in April 2015 there has been an amazing increase in the number of teams and groups of ladies who have set up in the South East and who just want to play football.  We also have contact with a group of ladies in Wales and one in Scotland, as well as quite a few Ladies’ Walking Football groups across the Country.  The “generation that football missed” now have a chance to play the game they love.

There is an abundance of benefits, which not only include increased fitness, making new friends, having fun, learning to play football and gaining confidence but an increase in health and wellbeing (physical and mental), without realising that you’re exercising.

We all know what it’s like when you get to “that” age, or even size, when you don’t feel like going to a dance class or the gym because you don’t fit the ideal of what you think you should look like, or even have the confidence to join in.

Well, ladies’ social football is totally different and is open to anyone who just wants to try and have fun while learning to play.  You don’t have to have ability, or look a certain way to join in, it’s for everyone!

For example, when we started up the Crawley Old Girls (COGs), with the help of the Crawley Town Community Foundation and the EFL Trust, one thing we were adamant about was that no experience was required, age was not a barrier and it was open to anyone, whether you had kicked a ball before, or not.   Since that first session over 2 years ago, with 10 ladies, we have seen approximately 60/70 ladies join the COGs and most are now involved in weekly sessions, having fun and playing football.

Some of the COGs at the last Mums’/Recreational Tournament held at Whyteleafe FC, in June.

The first ever tournament for Over 30s was held at Powerleague Wembley by the EFL Trust in July 2016 and had a total of over 80 ladies playing, with the majority new to the game.

More fun tournaments have been organised since and after the hard work of Roxanne Bennett of the CPFC Life Foundation, in partnership with Surrey FA and Emma Barnes, even more teams have been set up in the Surrey area.  This has resulted in 2 Mums’/Recreational tournaments (with approximately 10 new teams, that we know of) and a Forum about the future of Ladies’ Social/Recreational Football which is being held, by Surrey FA, tonight (18th July).  The feedback has been incredible with so many ladies enjoying a fun environment to play football in. Sussex has approximately 5 teams and it’s growing, with discussions ongoing with the Sussex County Woman & Girls Football League, about arranging Festivals and friendlies.  This may not sound a lot, but that’s over 250 ladies playing football as a social activity, in a small area of the country and it’s growing month by month.  Imagine how many ladies would be playing in the whole country if the opportunity was there? There are so many ladies/Mums/Nans who would love the opportunity to have the chance to play football.

This is where we need to promote and push this wonderful chance to ladies all over the country.  Do you know anyone who loves football but just wants the chance to have a kickabout without feeling like they have to be Jordan Nobbs or Jill Scott to play? We love them both by the way!

Now is the time, with the Lionesses at EURO 2017, to speak to your local Premier League Club or English Football League Club and ask their Community Trusts to get some sessions put on with funding from the Premier League Girls’ Fund.  If not, get your friends together, try and find a FA Level 1 coach and ask them to coach you, like they would mini soccer.  It works!  Once you get your friends involved and the word spreads, you will definitely get other ladies joining you, once they hear what great fun it is.

Why not set up a Mums’ session while the kids are training?

Since setting up our Crawley Old Girls’ Website this month, we are gathering details of all teams and you will find them on  There are also details on how you can set up your own group.  If you run sessions, please let us know and we’ll add you to the list of teams.

There is certainly a growing demand for this type of football and with the FA’s help and County FAs/ Women & Girls’ Leagues getting involved and promoting events, this can only be a good thing!   Time to get your boots on, ladies!

Slider photograph:  Courtesy of Michael Hulf Photography.