In the world of grassroots football, the pitch is not the only battleground. For many young female athletes, a significant part of the battle begins before they even step onto the field. How? Through the kits they wear. As evidenced by a recent survey carried out by Gift of Kit, match kit plays a pivotal role in the football experience of young girls.
Nearly a third of girls who play football stop by their late teens, a startling figure when compared to their male counterparts, of which only 10% drop out. Among the myriad reasons, some might seem superficial at first glance, but on closer inspection, are deeply rooted in societal perceptions and self-image.
A significant 69% of girls’ clubs have begun offering alternative colours to the conventional white shorts, a testament to the recognition of the unique challenges girls face during their adolescent years. Such a seemingly simple change can make a profound difference in the comfort and confidence levels of these young players.. Furthermore, 45% of these clubs now offer kits tailored specifically for girls. Why is this important? Because every athlete deserves gear that fits well, looks good, and most importantly, feels comfortable.
Another commendable step taken by 37% of girls’ clubs is making sanitary products available. This addresses a core need, ensuring that it doesn’t stand in the way of a girl’s passion for football.
There’s also an upsurge in inclusivity on the coaching front. More and more coaches are making efforts to recruit female players (80%) and increase training opportunities for them (72%). With our partnerships we’ve qualified over 200 new female coaches, to help reinforce these efforts.
Yet, despite these positive strides, the journey is far from over. A whopping 48% of girls stated they would continue playing if they could overcome the barriers they face, amounting to an estimated 200,000 potential footballers in the UK whose dreams are stifled. This underscores the immense potential for clubs and brands to step in, listen to these young athletes, and offer solutions that cater to their unique needs.
In recent years we’ve embarked on a journey to provide female fit match kits to women and girls teams, notably through our initiatives in partnership with Deliveroo, Just Eat and most recently, Starling Bank. Recognising the unique challenges our female athletes face, these initiatives aim to ensure that no player feels left out due to ill-fitting or inappropriate kit. The idea is simple yet profound: by giving every player the right gear, we enhance their game experience and hopefully, retain more female players in the sport.
In the world of grassroots sport, the right kit doesn’t just enhance the player’s experience—it can significantly influence their decision to continue playing. By collaborating with brands like Starling Bank, we’re not only acknowledging the challenges that female athletes face but actively working towards creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for them.
By giving importance to aspects as fundamental as the kit, we not only create an environment where girls feel at home but also one where their passion for the game is not dimmed by external factors. After all, the right kit is not just about aesthetics; it’s about respect, understanding, and fostering the love of the game.