Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football Can Be a Career for Girls

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football Can Be a Career for Girls

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Health Reporter

THIRTY years ago, on the pitches of Newcastle's East End, scores of schoolboys, caked in mud, yell out to their pals Each hope to score the winning goal which will take them one step closer to the dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Just a few hundred yards away, tucked in a far corner of a field in Walker, a handful of players have their own match going - except it's really only a kickabout. They too have a dream - playing in front of millions at Wembley.

But, of course, their dream will never happen, after all, they are girls.

Fast forward 30 years and Swans Recreation Ground is packed with players from Newcastle's East End FC's junior teams. Boys and girls.

Gary Gill, coach of the under-14's girls, said: "Seven years ago I could have counted on one hand the number of girls coming along. We now have over 150 regularly heading down to take part.

"More North East clubs are picking up on the popularity of the girls' game and realising there are quality players out there.

"These aren't just girls coming along for fun, they're skilled players, players with talent who are one day hoping to make a career for themselves.

"In my team alone we have a couple of girls who are about to have trials at Gateshead Stadium of Sunderland."

Unheard of to many, but the reality is girls have been battling it out on the football pitch for generations.

"It is only in more recent years their game has increased in pro-file.

And with that increased profile comes sponsorship, broadcasting contracts, merchandising - money.

Advocates are quick to point out that global television audiences for this summer's Women's World Cup have bounced sharply in the opening days of the tournament.

Merchandise is booming and an estimated 3.3m Americans tuned in to watch Team USA's opening win against Australia, this week - three times the number who saw its opener in Germany four years ago. The clash between France and England drew in 1.5m viewers in each country, a third more French viewers than last time.

These figures are dwarfed by the average official rating of 188. …

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