Girls Allowed: FA Lifts Its Ban ; Tough-Tackling 11-Year-Old Defender Wins Her Fight as Football Authorities Let Teenage Girls Play beside Boys
Woolf, Marie, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
From now on there's going to be a level playing field, literally. Despite success in youth teams across the UK, and in films from Gregory's Girl to Bend It Like Beck-ham, girls over 11 have been banned from playing in boys' teams. Now the ban is to be lifted.
The Football Association has responded to an outcry from female players and MPs after a campaign by an 11-year-old defender with a London youth team who was told she would be thrown out of her club on her 12th birthday.
Minnie Cruttwell, the only girl to play with Bal-ham Blazers, was so angry she wrote to Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to challenge the rule.
Ms Jowell intervened, and after an extensive consultation, which included talks with football's international governing bodies, Uefa and Fifa, the FA decided to review the ban and has drawn up proposals to allow teenage girls to play.
Minnie had submitted an official memorandum to a committee of MPs complaining that the rule forcing girls out of mixed teams was "sexist and unfair." In an official report, the committee agreed that the rule was a barrier to girls' developing footballing potential. It asked for the ban to be lifted to attract more girls.
Despite concerns in about the lack of changing facilities for teenage girls, the FA now has proposals to allow girls to play alongside boys in school and league clubs, including a one-year pilot to see how mixed teams work. "Actions that the FA is considering include moving the age to under-14s, removing the rule altogether or allowing a one-year dispensation for girls who want to play next season," said an FA spokesman. …